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Labour’s richest MP put on OPM payroll

Manuel Mallia put on the government’s payroll as a person of trust at the Prime Minister’s Office

Manuel Mallia’s package is equivalent to a minister’s salary.

Manuel Mallia’s package is equivalent to a minister’s salary.

Former Labour Cabinet minister Manuel Mallia has been put on the government’s payroll as a person of trust at the Prime Minister’s Office, the Times of Malta is informed.

According to information obtained after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, Dr Mallia, who lost his job as home affairs minister after his driver was involved in a shooting incident, enjoys a financial package worth €56,000 a year in his role as part-time legal adviser to the Prime Minister.

It could not be established what perks are included in the contract or how many hours is he expected to put in every week because Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar has refused to hand over a copy of Dr Mallia’s contract to the Times of Malta.

Dr Mallia’s package, equivalent to a minister’s salary, is over and above the €20,000 he receives as a Member of Parliament and his honorarium as chairman of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority.

The €500,000 cash omission was due to a misunderstanding

A former top criminal lawyer, Dr Mallia is by far the richest Labour MP according to his past declarations of assets.

Apart from tens of thousands in declared earnings from his private legal office, Dr Mallia also receives about €150,000 a year from properties he rents out.

He has also declared ownership of seven properties in Malta and Gozo and has about €2 million in bank deposits and investments.

Soon after Labour’s return to power in 2013, when he was appointed minister for national security and home affairs, Dr Mallia’s first declaration of assets immediately hit the headlines as he had failed to declare he kept €500,000 in cash at home.

He later amended the declaration and said the omission was due to a misunderstanding.

Just over a year after his appointment, Dr Mallia was sacked by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat when he failed to resign after his driver fired shots in the direction of a vehicle that had accidentally hit the ministerial car in late 2014.

Dr Mallia had issued a statement claiming his driver had fired warning shots but it later emerged this was not the case.

After a short stint as a backbencher, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat appointed Dr Mallia as minister for competitiveness. He was not elected at last June’s general election and only made it to the House through a casual election.

Several Labour MPs have been put on the government’s payroll or given contracts at public entities. These include Rosianne Cutajar, Glenn Bedingfield, Edward Zammit Lewis, Robert Abela, Alex Muscat, Etienne Grech, Anton Refalo and Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.

Joseph Muscat presides over the largest Cabinet since Malta’s independence.

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com

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