A young lawyer, not yet in his 30s, who obtained his warrant in 2018, has been given no less than nine different government appointments since his former boss became prime minister in 2020.
Ryan (Christopher) Pace – who, until Robert Abela became prime minister, worked as a budding lawyer at Abela and his wife’s private legal practice Abela Advocates, where he assisted the then Labour MP – found himself out of a job when his boss took the helm of Castille.
However, in a blatant attempt to kick start Pace’s private legal practice, Abela showered his former assistant with taxpayer-funded government jobs, making the young and relatively inexperienced lawyer one of the busiest on government retainers.
Labour-leaning lawyers who spoke to The Shift on condition of anonymity said that although they could “understand that the prime minister is taking good care of his former assistant by giving him a few jobs, Abela has gone overboard, in the process irritating other Labour lawyers who also expect a piece of the cake”.
“The prime minister is giving nepotism a new meaning,” a senior Labour-leaning lawyer close to disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat told The Shift.
The Shift is also informed that Pace, who has little work experience and no area of legal expertise since he has been practising law for under four years, had been made Chairman of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) last year on Abela’s direct instructions.
The Authority, which has been rocked by several scandals in recent years, regulates an industry that accounts for close to 15% of Malta’s gross domestic product.
Apart from the thousands of euros he earns from the MGA, the prime minister placed his former assistant on several other government retainers.
These include positions as a director on the boards of both ARMS Ltd and Malta Government Investments Limited, as well as another role as chairman of Gozo Heliport Ltd.
Pace was also appointed to act as board secretary for Engineering Resources Ltd and Mediterranean Offshore Bunkering Ltd, and was also nominated to sit on the Malta Film Commission and the Human Traffic Reform Committee.
Additionally, within a few weeks of Abela taking office, Pace was appointed by the Malta Tourism Authority as its Data Protection Officer, among other consultancies, where he was paid at least another €24,000 per annum.
All these appointments have been independently verified by The Shift.
Pace began working for Abela’s legal practice as an intern in 2015, when he was still a university student.
In his student days, Pace was very active in Pulse – the student organisation that acts as an unofficial youth wing of the governing Labour Party –where his student elections motto was: ‘I’m paving the way’.