A second contract signed between Transport Malta and Adreana Zammit shows the daughter of Minister Ian Borg’s canvasser got an astronomical pay rise within only eight months for her services as a junior lawyer, according to information received from a Freedom of Information request.
The contract signed in June 2020 shows that her remuneration increased from €15 per hour to €40 per hour while her responsibilities remained the same.
The only changes made from her first contract signed the previous June was a change in her title, from junior lawyer to legal consultant, and reduced working hours – from 40 hours per week to 35 hours per week.
The new contract meant the remuneration given to the 22-year old inexperienced lawyer went from €31,200 to almost €73,000 a year. This contrasts sharply with the €22,633 a year a junior legal officer employed with the government can expect to receive. It is in fact even higher than what lawyers who have worked with Transport Malta for decades receive.
The two consecutive contracts were given to Zammit through a direct order, without any form of competition and with conditions tailor made for the daughter of the Minister’s right hand man.
Same contracts, different remuneration
The first two-year contract of service with Zammit was signed on 1 October 2019, engaging her as a junior lawyer at a rate of €15 per hour for a 40-hour week.
The contract stipulated that Zammit would only work on assignments given to her directly by the Authority’s chairman, Joseph Bugeja. She was permitted flexible working hours so she could still work privately for other entities and clients, including those in the transport sector.
Yet in June 2020 this contract was scrapped and replaced by another engaging her as ‘legal consultant’ and increasing her rate to €40 per hour for a 35-hour week. The rest of her contract, including her duties, remained unchanged.
According to her contract, Zammit was to give advice to the Transport Authority chairman on a wide range of legal issues, from complaints to the Ombudsman to industrial relations disputes and drafting of complex contracts, which would normally be tackled by experienced lawyers.
It seems Transport Malta did not rely solely on her ‘expertise’ – the Authority’s list of direct orders shows that the services of various lawyers were used at the same time that cost taxpayers additional tens of thousands of euro.
Ian Borg and his canvasser
Transport Minister Ian Borg defended the contract given to his canvasser’s daughter when details about it were first reported.
Instead of assuming responsibility, he declared that he had nothing to do with Zammit’s contract and shifted the blame onto the Transport Malta chairman, which he claimed had acted independently from his ministry.
Prime Minister Robert Abela ordered the cancellation of the contract as Borg announced Zammit had decided to resign as she did not want to get involved in political bickering.
Her father, Jesmond Zammit, who is also a football coach, stopped acting as the minister’s private secretary soon after the 2017 general elections – only to keep doing the same job for a higher salary.
Borg gave his chief canvasser a contract of an advisor and topped it up with a €20,000 ‘expertise allowance’, which according to government rules is an exception to be sanctioned directly by the prime minister. As a result, Zammit’s financial package increased to over €67,000.