Just a few weeks before the last electoral campaign, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri put his personal campaign videographer on the ministry’s payroll, by direct order, for the “provision of media coverage”.
In a move that set taxpayers back some €35,000, Schembri employed his canvasser and campaign team member Franklin Cachia, a wedding videographer from Birżebbuġa with little experience in mainstream media, to provide him with ’media coverage’ just before his election campaign began.
The Shift is informed that Cachia handled the minister’s photography and video campaign requirements and also formed part of the campaign’s ‘Team Silvio’ while on the public payroll.
According to a new list of direct orders published in the Government Gazette, Cachia was given his contract on 22 January, which coincided with the inception of ‘Team Silvio’s’ work.
Schembri’s campaign also featured large free parties in his electoral districts and a free election campaign dinner held at the MFCC in Ta’ Qali, owned by the Corinthia group, which had dealings with Schembri as part of the bargain it got on the former Ħal Ferħ complex.
The Shift has already reported how invoices pertaining to most of Schembri’s expensive events were not given to the Electoral Commission.
The Economy Ministry’s list of direct orders, which covers only the first six months of the year, includes other regular beneficiaries of Labour’s direct order benevolence.
Fortina Group CEO Edward Zammit Tabona is now also a director of a new media company called Eleven54 Studio. Based at the OZO Group’s headquarters, the company received a direct order of €9,900 – just below the €10,000 threshold that would trigger a competitive tender – for unspecified “photography services”.
The OZO Group, which belongs to Zammit Tabonas and Mario Muscat, is the majority shareholder of Eleven54 Studio, which handles all the Fortina Group’s marketing requirements,
Meanwhile, G Media, owned by Gareth Degiorgio, a canvasser of Prime Minister Robert Abela, the recipient of various direct orders and state-funded programmes on PBS, was also awarded a €9,900 direct order from Schembri for “videography services”.
Anita Giordimaina, who until a few months ago was the Housing Authority’s board secretary, had a €9,000 direct order for ‘legal services’ at the Joint Office. TV presenter Clare Agius was also given a €10,000 direct order by the Commerce Department for ‘advertising’.