Friday, April 18, 2008

Govt confirms: Ambassador to Romania resigned "in view of conflict of interest"

Govt avoids questions about whether an investigation was launched into the 'diplomatic scandal'

Kurt Farrugia Thu, 17 April 2008

The Maltese Government has confirmed that Alain Mangion, non-resident Maltese Ambassador to Romania had tendered his resignation “in view of a conflict of interest which was developing relating to business activities.” The “conflict of interest” and subsequent resignation was kept under wraps by the government despite the serious consequences which Malta’s reputation suffered after extensive coverage of the ‘diplomatic scandal’ in Romania. Breaking the silence after a month and a half, replying to questions by, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, now headed by Tonio Borg, confirmed that on 27 February, Mr Alain Mangion, “tendered his resignation.”

The Ministry did not answer to specific questions whether the government has actually started investigating the case. The replies do not even indicate whether government is aware of any investigations about the case going on in Romania.

The reason for his resignation given by the Foreign Affairs Ministry was because of conflict of interest relating to business activities. Alain Mangion’s resignation, the Ministry said, “was immediately accepted. Mr Mangion was a non-resident Ambassador and did not receive any remuneration.” On 26 February had revealed how Ambassador Mangion’s Maltese-registered company, Credinvest International Corporate Finance Ltd was developing consistent businesses and commercial activity with the Romanian Ministry of Transport. During his short tenure as Ambassador Mangion’s company was also participating in a public auction organised by the National Company for Highways and National Roads for consultancy services in the construction of the Comarnic–Brasow highway.

The diplomatic statute forbids such business relationships and Mangion’s commercial activity in Romania breaches the Vienna Convention which says that: “A diplomatic agent shall not in the receiving State practise for personal profit any professional or commercial activity.”
The case was reported prominently in the influential Romanian daily Cotidianul. Mr Mangion had presented his credentials as non-resident Ambassador to Romania to the President of Romania, Traian Basescu in Bucharest on 6 March 2007. The whole case was kept on the quite by the Maltese government and former Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Frendo. The Foreign Ministry said that procedures for the appointment of a new Ambassador will be initiated at the opportune moment.

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