Anthony De Giovanni, the 74-year-old father of politically appointed chairperson of the government’s Social Care Standards Authority (SCSA) Katya De Giovanni, was given a second engagement contract to act as a lawyer for his daughter’s authority in July, according to documents seen by The Shift.
The pensioner, also a former civil servant and Labour mayor, was last year hired by the agency chaired by his daughter as a ‘junior lawyer’ on a one-year contract, paying him €22,000. The one-year contract should have ended this summer, but instead of terminating his engagement as established by the original contract, the SCSA, headed by his daughter, awarded him a second “handing over” contract.
According to the second contract, seen by The Shift and signed on July 16, 2021, De Giovanni was to “hand over” his legal duties at the agency and be paid an hourly rate.
De Giovanni was ‘condemned’ yesterday by the Office of the Prime Minister for remarks he made during a weekend radio show, in which he partially blamed Daphne Caruana Galizia’s son for her assassination. At the same time, a whistleblower was denied protection to reveal more on the nepotism in the agency chaired by De Giovanni’s daughter.
In a vaguely worded contract, described by SCSA insiders as “tailor-made for the chairperson’s father”, De Giovanni “agreed to render his services to the Authority including the handing over of legal duties to a maximum amount of €10,000.”
The open-ended contract stipulated that while the pensioner-lawyer was to be paid €14 an hour, his services to the government agency would “terminate either upon reaching the maximum amount of funds” or upon termination by the Authority with a month’s notice in writing.
The new contract with the chairperson’s father was signed by Angele Ellul Fenech – the agency’s new CEO appointed by its board of directors headed by Katya De Giovanni – only a week before the signing of the contract.
Nepotism ignored by the government
The Shift reported in August that the 74-year-old novice lawyer was last year employed as a ‘junior legal officer’ at the government authority where his daughter, Katya, was serving as chairperson.
The pensioner was selected for the position over other junior lawyers and was awarded a one-year contract that paid €22,000 out of taxpayer funds.
The SCSA has turned down Freedom of Information requests by The Shift to provide information on the members of the board interviewing the chairperson’s father and their final report, citing “confidentiality”.
Three days ago, The Shift also reported that the government has refused whistleblower status to a former employee who was ready to give evidence on abuse at the same Authority, including the alleged nepotism regarding the De Giovannis’.
Two government lawyers informed the prospective whistleblower that his reports “were based on speculation and required no further investigation”.
Not first abuse
The Shift also reported that in 2007 De Giovanni was found guilty of breaching human rights. The European Court of Human Rights had unanimously condemned Malta for violating the human rights of the minority local councillors in Fgura when De Giovanni was Labour mayor.
While the government has distanced itself from De Giovanni’s recent remarks about Caruana Galizia on public radio, in which he said the slain journalist’s son was partly responsible for his mother’s death, the former Labour mayor appears to continue to benefit from his proximity to the Party.
The 74-year-old lawyer, who graduated after having retired from the civil service in 2008, was recruited at the SCSA just a few weeks after he was sacked from another government position for yet another transgression.
At the start of 2020, De Giovanni was caught red-handed abusing government IT property to change the Wikipedia profile of Dutch MEP Pieter Omtzigt, the Special Rapporteur appointed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to look into the investigation into the journalist’s assassination.
The government was forced to terminate De Giovanni’s position at the time with the education ministry after his actions were exposed. Yet a few weeks later, he was back on the government’s payroll. This time, at the government agency his daughter chairs.
Katya De Giovanni, a lecturer at university, is a new Labour candidate.