Manoel chairman signs six irregular contracts in one day with one firm

The contracts set the government back half a million euros before they were terminated.


The non-executive chairman of the Manoel Theatre signed six irregular contracts with one company in one day that were only discovered two years later.

According to documents seen by The Shift, the six different contracts for various projects to be carried out at the national theatre set the government back more than half a million euro until Chairman Michael Grech was ordered to terminate them.

Despite the order, the contracts may still expose the government to further damages.

As a non-executive chairman, Grech is not authorised to enter into binding agreements. Yet on 11 March 2019, he signed six contracts with AP Valletta consultant David Drago representing the architecture firm.

AP Valletta is owned by David Felice and Konrad Buhagiar.

While one of the contracts related to “general consultancy”, the others were tied to specific projects, such as the restoration of the theatre’s façade, rooftop extension works, insertion of cultural infrastructure and a climate control project.

Works were ongoing for two years without anyone asking questions until it was discovered in 2021 that the work had not been covered by direct order or a tender.

This goes against procurement rules. For a direct order to be issued, permission must first be sought from the Finance Ministry.

Internal sources confirmed to The Shift that Grech did not seek any authorisation, saying it was all done “behind our backs”.

The minister responsible, Owen Bonnici, reinstated Grech following the last general elections held in March.

Grech, a partner at law firm GVZH Advocates, is one of the only surviving public entity chairmen to have retained his position since the Nationalist Party was in power a decade ago.

He was appointed Manoel Theatre chairman by former PN minister Mario de Marco.

Grech also sits on the board of Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti and The Gasan Foundation. He is also a Knight of Magistral Grace of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici has so far not taken any known action to address the situation.

It is the latest in a list of problems the minister faces after the scandalous sexual harassment cases at the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra as well as reported workplace harassment at the Manoel Theatre.

Another agency under his responsibility, Heritage Malta, was also embroiled in several scandals last summer on Bonnici’s watch.

Bonnici was found guilty by the Constitutional Court of breaching human rights over orders he gave over two years to remove tributes placed by citizens at the Valletta protest memorial to slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Yet he remains one of the longest-surviving Cabinet members since Labour was swept to power in 2013.

The Shift sent questions to the chairman, who said he was abroad with limited internet connection. No replies have as yet been received despite the deadline for the story being extended.


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1 month ago

The only correct action I can think of is to fire Mr. Michael Grech today.

Mr. Owen Bonnici, who after his so many pathetic performances continues to be in office, is welcome to follow him today.
It should be clear to the last Labourista that this person should not have taken the place.

The question everyone should ask themselves here:
Will ROBBER Abela now always show himself in public with a RED clown nose?

A. Fan
A. Fan
1 month ago

As if we needed more proof that scumbags come in all different colours, including red and blue. What baffles me about this case is how the Manoel Theatre would be bound by the signatures of someone not authorised to sign on its behalf. Without proper due diligence requirements, every Tom, Dick and Mikey could purport to sign for their employer. Caveat emptor, or vendor in this case.

1 month ago

Noddy is to busy chasing photo opportunities do anything about this scandal and is in fact totally useless as a human being anyway?

1 month ago

This is how the Mafia or Mazunerija or Partit Laburista function.
But it now seems that the three have morphed into ONE.
It has its main office in the Kastilja Kitchen .

Last edited 1 month ago by makjavel

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