A second call for a probe into the conduct of Education Minister Justyne Caruana’s was made to the Standards Commissioner George Hyzler earlier this week, The Shift can confirm.
While independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola had already filed a request for an investigation, another complaint has been sent to the Commissioner that contains evidence shedding light on her relationship with Daniel Bogdanovic, according to sources close to the Ghajnsielem football club where Bogdanovic is coach.
Education Minister Justyne Caruana would not comment on the circumstances in which she gave the €5,000 a month contract to Bogdanovic, revealed by Malta Today, as pressure is increasing on Prime Minister Robert Abela to act over the abuse of public funds and breach of the ministerial code of ethics.
The complainant, in the second request on the case to Hyzler, requested an investigation into how public funds are being “abused” by the Minister. The nature of Caruana’s relationship with Bogdanovic raised questions on whether she could in fact be benefitting from that contract.
Despite her relationship with Bogdanovic being an open secret, the Education Minister would not confirm or deny reports.
Last month, Caruana insisted on denying that Bogdanovic was a member of her private secretariat despite evidence presented by The Shift.
While the Minister said the former footballer “was not part of the secretariat”, he is listed on the government’s internal IT system as a “secretariat officer” in the Minister’s private office in Floriana.
In addition, she instructed her permanent secretary Frank Fabri to draw up a €5,000 a month contract for Bogdanovic “to provide an overview of the modus operandi of the National Sports School”. It is unclear how Bogdanovic, a former footballer, qualifies for the role.
NGO Repubblika pointed out in a statement that since the COVID pandemic broke out more than a year ago, the education ministry had stopped payments for various scholarships, and for education projects in schools, while teachers had to use old outdated laptops for online teaching while schools were closed.
And yet, Minister Justyne Caruana found the funds for a €5,000-a-month direct order to “a close friend”, a footballer who has no qualifications in the education sector and was tasked to go around schools at a time when they are closed because of COVID.
Caruana was reinstated as a member of Cabinet in November 2020, after she was forced to resign almost a year earlier due to her husband’s close relations to murder suspect Yorgen Fenech at a time when she was Gozo Minister. She has since separated from former Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta.