EXCLUSIVE: MCAST inquiry finds wide-scale fraud and falsification in recruitment procedures

No police action despite report being submitted in 2019

 

Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti hawn.

The results of an inquiry completed in 2019, and kept under lock and key by the government since, show an ‘endemic toxic system’ at MCAST in relation to the recruitment of staff, with hundreds of missing or falsified interview ‘score cards’, as management succumbed to pressure from ministers.

The inquiry, held under the official Inquiries Act, was launched following a series of claims made by a high MCAST official in 2018, including to then Education Minister Evarist Bartolo. Yet despite being finished a year later, the government has kept the report buried despite promises to publish it.

The Shift is now revealing the report, analysed after it was presented in court earlier this week. The whole report and accompanying incriminating evidence were passed on to the police more than three years ago.

Yet no investigations have been concluded so far and no action has been taken against those involved.

‘Missing’ and ‘altered’ scorecards in an ‘endemic toxic system’

The investigation, led by financial expert Paul Bonello, found that the tertiary education facility was inundated with very serious administrative shortcomings, particularly in its management and the way it recruits lecturers and other staff.

In what the inquiry describes as a recruitment process based “on a system of endemic and toxic recommendations”, it found that dozens of scorecards used by members of interviewing boards to recruit lecturers were altered with “tip-ex” and the marks originally obtained by those sitting for the interview changed.

In just six months of interviews in 2018, and reviewed by the Bonello inquiry, 57 results were found to be falsified, where results were changed to recruit the “recommended” candidate.

An extract from the MCAST inquiry report shows hundreds of missing or altered scorecards.

The inquiry found that this system was apparently “endemic”, and such instances were found to go back to 2010.

According to the inquiry, the peak of the fraudulent system was reached in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 were the largest amount of ‘altered’ or ‘lost’ scorecards were found.

The inquiry, which interviewed former and current government-appointed principals, chairmen, and senior MCAST staff members, heard evidence in which the top management of the College acknowledged the system of recommendations and actively participated in it.

‘Such pressure existed all the time’

Silvio De Bono, a former work colleague of ex education minister Evarist Bartolo, was appointed principal as soon as Labour was returned to power in 2013. He admitted that he used to receive a large number of recommendations on who to recruit at MCAST, even from the Office of the Prime Minister.

“I didn’t make recommendations directly,” he told the board. “However, I used to have recommendations, even from the OPM, and I used to pass on the message to the human resources (HR) department to take care of these candidates, if found to be ok,” Debono told the inquiry.

“I can assure you that in my position such pressure is exerted all the time,” Debono added.

Inquiry report: Former MCAST chairman confirms a system of recommendations from those in power.

Confirming pressure and recommendations, including phone calls from former parliamentary secretary Silvio Parnis, as well as the wife of Minister Anton Refalo, a senior HR officer ( Josephine Abdilla) told the board that even the current principal (James Calleja) was recommended for the job.

“He (De Bono) used to tell me that he received instructions that that job (principal) is for James Calleja”, she told the inquiry.

De Bono denies this.

Recommending a thorough overhaul of the recruitment process at MCAST, the inquiry board, which also included lawyer Phyllis Aquilina and Antoinette Cutajar, slammed the MCAST administration for allowing this fraudulent system to flourish in an education institution supposed to uphold meritocracy and equality.

Although then Education Minister Evarist Bartolo had said that he would publish the inquiry once concluded, this never happened.

Instead, on the night of Maundy Thursday in 2019 – and repeating a familiar strategy to bury bad news, since no newspapers are published on Good Friday – Bartolo issued a brief press release stating that he had handed the inquiry report to the police.

Since then, nothing has been done and no one has been taken to court over the falsification of documents and other fraudulent activity.

                           

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James
James
2 years ago

Well what a surprise… the police doing nothing!!

Keep up the good work because until and unless the international community steps up and takes over these non investigations nothing can or will change.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
2 years ago

Thank you you The Shift Team for exposing this scandal. Can anyone try to reach Evarist Bartolo for his comment, please.

Greed
Greed
2 years ago
Reply to  saviour mamo

He has an article in today’s Times of malta about corruption of all things

Joe Genovese
Joe Genovese
2 years ago

School for scandal.

Verb as well as noun.

carmelo borg
2 years ago

San Varist tar raggiera illum kiteb artiklu İNTERESSANTİ fuq it Times fil pagna ta wara. Nghid kollox ghax hekk ikun jixraq anke taht il PN kienu issiru . Sewwa jaghdu hawn lil min taf mhux kemm int kapaci.

Leonard Schembri
Leonard Schembri
2 years ago
Reply to  carmelo borg

When I applied for the post of Director of Sciences with MCAST, 3 people applied for the job. I was unofficially told that I was the first to be chosen. No one from MCAST ever contacted me for one whole year until one week before the same ad had to appear in all the media houses. The Principal’s letter stated that I am in no way to apply for this post. This was under the PN. My conclusion – MCAST was corrupt before the PL in government and is still corrupt. I pity all its students who are not receiving the best education that could be offered.

Francis Said
Francis Said
2 years ago

This is unbelievable and totally unacceptable in what is supposedly a democratic country.
No wonder standards are at their lowest ebb. If the electorate continues to allow such blatant corrupt practices in our educational institutions and other areas too. Then democracy is lost and we are living in an authoritarian Country.
SHAME on all who accept this.

mick
mick
2 years ago
Reply to  Francis Said

It has to be like this there cannot be any competition between Bogans and Gahans in Serenity Land, things are only considered worse if you are a free thinker and most likely a traitor.

carlos
2 years ago

What are you waiting for puppet gafa?

Greed
Greed
2 years ago
Reply to  carlos

His strings to be pulled

joseph
joseph
2 years ago

Justice, democracy,meritocracy,the three pillars of ten years of labour govts.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
2 years ago

THE WHOLE POLITICAL SYSTEM IS CORRUPT
NEVER, EVER, TRUST THE PEOPLE’S REPRESENTATIVES,
THEY WILL ALWAYS, UNFAILINGLY, DECEIVE YOU.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
2 years ago

We just have men and women of straw controlling our institutions. What a shame.

N Scerri
N Scerri
2 years ago

Imbasta jghajjat bil clean hands are needed Varist in yesterday s Times.Rexti.

Joe Borg
Joe Borg
2 years ago

Viva l Labour. L aqwa c-cekk!!

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
2 years ago

Can anyone be sure that the situation at the UOM is different from that of the MCAST.

makjavel
makjavel
2 years ago

While MCAST is trying to show itself as a trust worthy educational institution worth being internationally recognised.
Has ASIIN seen this corrupt practice organised top down with this governments top legal advisor chairman of the MCAST Board? Legal advice on how to avoid the law not how to behave according to the law. Ian Refalo and all that he stands for, protecting the corrupt? The rest of the Board do not resign after such a report , which I am sure they have seen? All guilty of a Cover Up. Case closed.

Albert Mamo
Albert Mamo
2 years ago

MR FINGER STRAIGHT, MINISTER EVERIST BARTOLO FORWARDED THE THE REPORT TO THE POLICE AND CONVENIENTLY SWEEP IT UNDER THE CARPET. NO FOLLOW UP!!!👎👎👎

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