Mark Mallia – President George Abela’s right-hand man at the time when the prime minister’s father headed San Anton Palace – has been appointed as the new CEO of Identity Malta, the State entity responsible for the issue of passports and identity cards.
Until a few weeks ago as the deputy commander of the Armed Forces, Mallia is not known to have any expertise or qualifications in the field and was given the top position without a call.
Mostly known for his proximity to the Labour Party, particularly to disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle, Mallia hit the headlines in 2013 after the change of government when together with Jeffrey Curmi, today’s Brigadier, he was given an unprecedented four promotions in just four months, and practically took over the running of the army.
During the process, many other high ranking army officials, with more experience and seniority, were sidelined, with then National Security Minister Manuel Mallia issuing instructions that Curmi and Mallia were to lead the army.
In 2017, Mallia was also responsible for another record at the armed forces, when under his direct command, some 800 promotions were dished out to army officials in just 33 days, coinciding between the issue of the writ of the elections and the actual polling day.
An investigation by the Ombudsman later found that soldiers seeking a promotion were even interviewed on the day of the polls and told that they were going to be given a salary increase related to their promotion.
In his report, the Ombudsman had called the four consecutive ‘accelerated’ promotions to Curmi and Mallia in 2013 as “outright illegal, improper and discriminatory”.
The Ombudsman described the promotion exercise as “the result of a tailor-made process to achieve a pre-ordained result”.
The AFM commander at the time was completely sidelined by the government and learned of the promotion exercise through the media.
In a separate case, also involving Mark Mallia, it was revealed in court proceedings that in 2015, an AFM gunner was asked to meet the then prime minister’s spouse Michelle Muscat to try to resolve a dispute he had with the deputy commander of the armed forces. The meeting, which was inconclusive, was held at Villa Francia in Lija, used extensively by Muscat at the time when Joseph Muscat was prime minister.
Identity Malta, which falls under the remit of Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat, is chaired by Mario Galea, the former CEO of Malta Enterprise and its board of directors include Diane Izzo, the Labour Party’s head of Radio Clint Bajada and the MHRA secretary-general Andrew Agius Muscat.