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Ombudsman asked to investigate Commissioner by Film Association

“A time of crisis should not mean an exemption for corrupt practices,” Malta Film Producers Association.

Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech
Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech.

The Malta Producers Association (MPA) submitted a formal complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman calling for an investigation into the corrupt practices of Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech.

The MPA pointed out that four weeks had passed since The Shift exposed the “fraudulent and corrupt practice” of Grech who, through his office, was caught sending a select list of seven production service providers to foreign producers while omitting others in the sector.

Since then little has happened, the association said: “Grech remains in office and no investigation has started. This can only be described as favouring the message that impunity reigns supreme”.

The association had called for Grech’s immediate resignation and held a meeting with Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli on 9 March. “Although the minister agreed that things had been wrongly done and understood that, given his position, Grech would need to be suspended pending an investigation, essentially very little had been done.”

It pointed out that the minister appointed RSM Malta to carry out an operational review of the Film Commission, which was important and definitely necessary. RSM Malta is the same company that audits the accounts of the Labour Party – its former managing partner Deo Scerri is now BOV chairman.

“Such a review seeks to correct procedure but falls far short of investigating the evident wrongdoing of a man who has changed the Film Commission into his fiefdom, working for the benefit of a few while denying an opportunity for all the rest”.

The MPA said it understood that this was a time of crisis but this should not mean an exemption for corrupt practices.

All the evidence would be presented to a proper independent investigation once the Film Commissioner is removed from his influential seat of power, removing any fear of retribution. “There is enough evidence in the public domain to warrant his dismissal and to start an investigation,” the MPA said.

The association presented a number of examples of the corrupt malpractice and bad governance during the meeting with Farrugia Portelli. Describing the lack of action as “unacceptable,” the association said that leaving Grech in office with access and ample time to destroy any other evidence of wrongdoing was “tantamount to obstruction of justice”.

By submitting an official complaint, the association hoped the Office of the Ombudsman would accept its request to look into Grech’s corrupt practices. “We trust that justice will be done and that it is seen to be done”.

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