A former Transport Malta chief officer who resigned a few weeks ago has now been engaged as a consultant by the Lands Authority through a company he owns.
Mark Sammut, who was touted to become CEO at the transport regulator soon after the departure of James Piscopo earlier this year, unexpectedly tendered his resignation last September when the government appointed Joseph Bugeja as executive chairman.
However, Mr Sammut, who also has an IT business servicing government departments, including Transport Malta, was soon engaged on a consultancy basis by the Lands Authority, now headed by Mr Piscopo, his former boss.
Mr Piscopo, a former CEO of the Labour Party, was given his present job at the Lands Authority last July by Transport Minister Ian Borg.
When asked, a few weeks ago, whether there was any relationship between Mr Sammut and the Lands Authority, Mr Piscopo had replied that “Mr Sammut is not employed with the Lands Authority”. Questions on whether any of Mr Sammut’s companies had contracts with the regulator remained unanswered.
Lands Authority sources said Cursor Ltd, belonging to Mr Sammut, was hired as consultants to the Lands Authority under Mr Piscopo. The contract value is estimated to exceed €100,000 and no call for a public tender is known to have been made.
Sammut is not employed with the Lands Authority
No replies were forthcoming when Mr Piscopo was asked what sort of consultancy was Cursor Ltd, whether it was engaged through a call for tenders or by direct order and what the value of the contract was.
Cursor Ltd is audited by Reanda Malta Ltd, owned by Robert Borg, the financial controller of the General Workers Union and a former Transport Malta board secretary.
Mr Sammut, a former consultant to disgraced former European commissioner John Dalli, was appointed to Transport Malta’s board soon after Labour swept to power in 2013. He had later resigned from the board to become chief officer.
The Times of Malta reported last week that Mr Sammut’s wife, Carmen, joined Health Minister Chris Fearne’s private secretariat despite her private business, Mall Systems Ltd, providing IT services to Mater Dei Hospital.
A spokesman for Mr Fearne said that Ms Sammut had resigned as director of the IT company before joining the secretariat. However, she is still registered as owner of the company, registered at the same address as Cursor Ltd.
Ms Sammut’s company is also audited by Mr Borg.
A few weeks ago, the Times of Malta reported that Mr Piscopo was involved in business with the owners of the Fortina Hotel through separate companies. He had declared this to the board after receiving questions from this newspaper about the matter.
Mr Piscopo had said he was in the process of divesting his private business interests.
Asked for a copy of Mr Piscopo’s declaration of assets, which he should have presented to the board, headed by Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco, upon his appointment, the Lands Authority said “it needs more time to gather the requested information”.
Times of Malta has heard nothing about this since.