Bank of Valletta’s chairman Gordon Cordina pocketed €90,277 last year from what he describes as a “part-time role for a limited period of engagement”, according to figures published in the bank’s latest annual report.
Research by The Shift shows that in addition to his €82,000 annual remuneration for his position as the chairman of Malta’s largest bank, Cordina also sits on two of the bank’s sub-committees, including the important Remunerations Committee, which boosts his income from BOV shareholders to more than €90,000 a year.
Since BOV owns half of Mapfre MSV Life Insurance, Cordina also sits on the insurer’s board, where he earns himself another handsome directorship fee.
The bank’s performance has been dismal over the past year, having been severely hit by self-inflicted scandals and poor decisions.
The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit slapped the bank with a €2.6 million fine for anti-money laundering breaches, and it also reached a €182.5 million out of court for the Deiulemar debacle.
But, despite this, Cordina proposed and obtained approval at the bank’s last annual general meeting for a mandate to continue increasing his and his fellow directors’ remuneration over the coming years.
Reacting to the possible conflict of interest between his chairing of Malta’s biggest lender and his private economic consultancy, which produces reports and business proposals for many of the bank’s clients – including the government and its agencies as well as private companies. When contacted by The Shift this week, Cordina said it is a non-executive position on a part-time basis.
The remuneration package for his part-time job is almost double that of the prime minister.
Denying suggestions of a conflict of interest, the BOV chairman told The Shift, “There is no inherent conflict of interest between my role as non-executive chairperson of BOV and pursuing my profession as an economist in E-Cubed Consultants Ltd.”
Cordina described the undertaking of additional work by holders of non-executive board roles as “a typical arrangement”.
Cordina is not the first BOV chairman to have been allowed by regulatory authorities, mainly by the Malta Financial Services Authority – at the time under the stewardship of disgraced former CEO Joseph Cuschieri – to carry on with their private work despite a potential conflict of interest. The same has happened under Nationalist and Labour administrations alike.
Before Cordina, BOV chairmen had much lower financial packages due to the position being part-time.
The bank’s board met on a total of 17 occasions last year, which points to a staggering remuneration of almost €5,000 per board meeting for Cordina.
While Cordina attempts to downplay the chairman’s role as some sort of part-time undertaking, in reality, no decision of any importance is taken by the bank without the chairman’s approval.
Earlier this week, The Shift reported how Cordina, in his private capacity as owner of E-Cubed Consultants, is, by far, the Labour administration’s economic consultant of choice.
So much so that he has been handed dozens of direct orders for all types of studies – from how a power station should utilise its plants to surveys on tourism and consumption.
Between 2013 and 2022, Cordina’s company, which he owns with his partner, Stephanie Vella, was awarded 64 direct orders by the government and its agencies, receiving €1.4 million from the public coffers.
Cordina, who hails from a staunch Labour family with his father, Peter, having contested the MEP elections on the Labour ticket, started his career as the National Statistics Office director general during a Nationalist administration.
He resigned shortly after the then-Labour opposition started to criticise him.
His life partner, Stephanie Vella, was also recently appointed a governor of the MFSA, which is responsible, along with the European Central Bank, for regulating BOV.
Vella similarly downplayed any potential conflict of interest, stating that her roles in the public and private sector are “distinct from each other”.
It is a well-known fact, however, that Cordina is not an exception and that other board members also hold positions in the private sector while simultaneously having part-time roles on the bank’s board.