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Foundation CEO ‘vanishes’ for two months to work on Fearne's campaigns

Ministry denies claims

Chris Fearne taking a selfie with Carmen Ciantar (front) and her assistant at the Foundation for Medical Services soon after winning the Labour deputy leadership race.

Chris Fearne taking a selfie with Carmen Ciantar (front) and her assistant at the Foundation for Medical Services soon after winning the Labour deputy leadership race.

The government’s Foundation for Medical Services has been managed on “auto-pilot” since last May, as its CEO, Carmen Ciantar, has not returned to the office since the general election was announced, top officials have told this newspaper.

According to the officials, both Ms Ciantar – who was given a €100,000 package directly by Health Minister Chris Fearne – and her personal secretary, Stephanie Dimech, have been working full-time on Mr Fearne’s political campaigns.

“We have not seen Carmen [Ciantar] since last May. No one even bothered to tell us what was going on, and we found out from Facebook that our boss was leading Mr Fearne’s campaign,” a senior FMS official said.

Ms Ciantar is one of the highest paid government employees and earns twice as much as her direct boss – the minister himself

“We have reported this to the ministry, but no one told us anything,” another official said.

This newspaper is informed that Ms Ciantar was acting as coordinator for the personal campaign of Mr Fearne in the two districts he contested.

Following the general election, Ms Ciantar switched to running Mr Fearne’s successful bid for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party.

Messages posted on Ms Ciantar’s personal Facebook page by Labour supporters congratulated her for the “campaign she led” on behalf of Mr Fearne.

Dana Farrugia, personal assistant to Minister Chris Cardona, congratulating Carmen Ciantar (right) on ‘her’ campaign to elect Chris Fearne.Dana Farrugia, personal assistant to Minister Chris Cardona, congratulating Carmen Ciantar (right) on ‘her’ campaign to elect Chris Fearne.

She also appears in a number of photos related to his campaign team.

This newspaper asked the minister a number of questions, including whether Ms Ciantar was on leave during her long absence from her official duties and whether Mr Fearne felt it was ethical to use a person of trust at a government agency to run his personal political campaign. What was her role in Fearne’s campaign, and who was managing the FMS while she was away?

To all these questions, the ministry replied: “Your information is incorrect. FMS CEO continued to perform her FMS duties before, during and after the mentioned campaigns.”

Last year, The Sunday Times of Malta revealed that Mr Fearne had selected Ms Ciantar for the post with a staggering financial package amounting to €104,000 a year. This makes her one of the highest paid government employees, earning twice as much as her direct boss – the minister himself.

Until a few months ago, Ms Ciantar, who was once married to former Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, was working for Minister Konrad Mizzi as the general manager of Arms Ltd.

A Labour activist from a young age, Ms Ciantar is also a member of the executive of Nisa Laburisti and in the last legislature also served on the board of directors of Transport Malta.

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