Lands Authority chairman Lino Farrugia Sacco told Times of Malta the CEO should reply to questions on a controversial promotion approved to one of the main protagonists of the 2016 Gaffarena scandal.
Judge Farrugia Sacco was asked via e-mail who had approved the promotion of Charles Camilleri and how the official, who had resigned from the regulator’s precursor, the Land Department, following the scandal had been reinstated.
When the questions remained unanswered and the newspaper pointed out that, as the head of a publicly-funded entity, he was in duty bound to explain, the retired judge said CEO James Piscopo should reply.
Still, the questions remain unanswered.
Times of Malta reported last month that, on the recommendation of Mr Piscopo, the regulator’s board of governors approved the promotion of Mr Camilleri as acting chief officer responsible for the same office he used to manage prior to the Gaffarena debacle.
An inquiry conducted by the National Auditor had singled out Mr Camilleri as one of the three main protagonists that led to “irregularities” in clear breach of the fundamental principles of good governance, transparency and fairness. The other two were then parliamentary secretary (now minister) Michael Falzon, who had subsequently resigned, and then director general Ray Camilleri, who, too, has since resigned.
After resigning, Mr Camilleri had moved to another government department and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had described Mr Camilleri’s “removal” as a sign of accountability.
The newspaper is informed that, despite the fact that many officials on the Lands Authority’s board were not “happy” with having Mr Camilleri back into the same position he occupied when the irregularities occurred, it was only Nationalist MP Ryan Callus who formally objected.
The Auditor General had established that businessman Marco Gaffarena had acquired €3.4 million in land and cash from the government for the expropriation of half a building in Valletta valued at €900,000.
In a sworn statement following his resignation in 2016, Mr Camilleri had said he had acted the way he did because he felt threatened and under pressure by Mr Gaffarena and a liaison officer representing the parliamentary secretary.
Questions sent to Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco:
▪ When did Charles Camilleri return to the Lands Authority (date) and in what position?
▪ Did his employment with the Lands Authority follow a call? If not, who approved his return and in what grade?
▪ Did your board approve Mr Camilleri’s employment?
▪ Did Mr Camilleri apply for his latest promotion to acting chief officer? If not, who recommended his promotion?
▪ Did your board approve Mr Camilleri’s promotion?
▪ When is Mr Camilleri’s statutory retirement date?