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Ex-canvasser facing corruption charges is still paid half his FTS salary

It was claimed that he was moved to another department

Edward Caruana served as a Labour agent at the Naxxar counting hall last June.

Edward Caruana served as a Labour agent at the Naxxar counting hall last June.

Edward Caruana, who is facing bribery and corruption charges, is still on the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools’ books, the Times of Malta is informed.

Despite declarations that Mr Caruana was no longer employed by the foundation and was transferred to another government department, information given in Parliament indicates otherwise.

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi tabled a parliamentary question asking Education Minister Evarist Bartolo for a list of FTS employees since Labour returned to power in 2013. It resulted that Mr Caruana still received half the salary as the FTS’s head of summer projects, the maintenance division and coordination unit.

Mr Caruana is paid almost €20,000 a year. Before, he had a basic salary of €40,000, in line with a direct employment contract concluded in 2013. 

When corruption allegations against Mr Caruana first surfaced in October 2016, Mr Bartolo told this newspaper he had ordered his transfer to another department and for the FTS to sever all contact. Mr Caruana received a full salary between October 2016 and October 2017 after suspending himself from work before he was arraigned.

While serving the suspension, Mr Caruana acted as a Labour Party representative at the counting hall during the June general election.

He owns a large block of flats in Rabat which is known to have formed part of police investigations into suspicions of embezzlement of FTS funds and construction material earmarked for public school projects.

The Rabat property, which has a multimillion-euro market value, was frozen by the court last January.

Former FTS CEO Philip Rizzo testified in court that Mr Caruana had asked contractors for bribes, demanded cuts on FTS tenders related to school projects and asked for “a container of tiles”.

In his resignation letter, Mr Rizzo accused Mr Bartolo of spending weeks trying to dissuade him from reporting Mr Caruana’s actions to the police.

The minister denied this but later admitted that he had waited months before officially taking action because he wanted “a smoking gun”.

Asked if he had misled Parliament and the media in stating Mr Caruana had nothing to do any more with the FTS while in fact he was still on its books, a spokeswoman for Mr Bartolo said “when information was requested in Parliament and by the media the minister always provided a true reflection of facts at the time”.

Mr Bartolo had even “provided unsolicited updates when circumstances required. All this underlines the minister’s commitment to transparency and good governance,” she added.

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