Jonathan Cardona has been given the entitlement to claim a generous ‘service bonus’ at the end of his three-year stint as Enemalta CEO on top of a €160,000 per year financial package at the loss-making state entity.
Cardona was until last year chief salesman of the government’s controversial cash-for-passports scheme and one of disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s closest associates.
According to his engagement contract, seen by The Shift, he will be entitled to claim this unique ‘service bonus’ even if his contract is not renewed, if leaves the entity for another job, or is dismissed.
In what HR experts told The Shift is “a very strange contract, especially for a public sector company”, Cardona’s agreement says “on the termination of his employment with the Company, howsoever happening, the employee shall receive from the company, a service bonus equivalent to six weeks of his current remuneration (including his salary, allowances, and other benefits) multiplied by the number of years the employee has been in employment.”
According to our calculations based on details of his remuneration package, Cardona will receive some €20,000 per year on top of his already lucrative financial package.
The contract was signed in October for a fixed term three-year period, and is to be automatically renewed for another three year term if the company wishes.
A former classmate of Muscat during their school years at St Aloysius college, Cardona started helping Muscat as soon as the latter became Labour leader, and was made CEO of Identity Malta when the notorious golden passport scheme was introduced.
He travelled the world selling Maltese passports together with his then close associate at the agency, Monica Farrugia, at a cost of some €300,000 in taxpayers’ funds.
Shortly after the government started receiving messages from Brussels last October that the cash-for-passport scheme would have to end, Minister Miriam Dalli chose Cardona to become CEO of the state energy provider.
Cardona’s contract was signed by Enemalta’s politically appointed Chairperson Jonathan Scerri, and stipulates that the new CEO is to be paid a basic salary of €116,000 per year plus a long list of benefits for himself and his family.
These include a €6,000 per year communications allowance, €11,400 per year to continue using his own car for official duties (with a full-time driver and free fuel), an annual performance bonus of over €17,000 per year, and the payment of international health insurance for family members including his spouse and children.
In total, Cardona will receive more than €160,000 per year, almost three times the remuneration of the energy minister.
As reported by The Shift last week, the Labour government restructured Enemalta in 2013 by selling a third of its shares to the Chinese government, and it is currently in dire financial straits, losing millions of euros every month.
The company has avoided publishing its accounts for years, despite laws requiring it to do so, while the government subsidises the state entity every month to keep it afloat.
The Maltese government is obliged by EU law to notify the European Commission about state subsidies to Enemalta, but it is not known whether they have done so.
Brussels is so far refusing to take a stand on the issue and has not said whether a state aid notification has been made.