“As a lone individual, as a woman, I managed to thwart the evil plans of dark and hidden forces which are much, much bigger than me”. This wasn’t Wonder Woman or Bat Girl. This was Carmen Ciantar, the Foundation for Medical Services CEO, announcing her return to “finish what we started”. Or, rather, her return to continue to cash in on her €163,000 annual remuneration.
In what can only be described as a bizarre turn of events, the megalomaniac Ciantar, who claimed to have thwarted the evil plans of dark and hidden forces, decided to self-suspend her self-suspension.
On 31 May The Daily Pakistan alleged that Ciantar received €443,500 from Gozo International Medicare Ltd, an offshore company behind the complex Vitals Global healthcare structure. That money allegedly came from Dubai’s Emirates NBD Bank.
Ciantar allegedly received another €750,000 into an account at the Swiss private bank Bordier and Cie Geneva. That account was linked to a Panamanian company, Global Finance Inc, allegedly belonging to Ciantar.
Ciantar allegedly submitted 15 separate invoices between October 2015 and February 2016 labelled “travel expenses reimbursements”, receiving the money just six weeks before VGH was awarded the fraudulent concession. The Pakistani newspaper claimed it obtained the transaction reference numbers through a leaked banking tranche.
Just a few days later more allegations surfaced claiming that Carmen Ciantar’s daughter had received €3.2 million from a wealthy Russian who Chris Fearne allegedly helped acquire a Maltese passport.
Those claims were so dodgy that nobody believed them. No self-respecting media house picked up those entirely fabricated stories. It was evident that somebody was intent on harming Ciantar and her boss Chris Fearne. Those despicable lies deserved condemnation.
But Labour failed to issue a single statement. Although those allegations were clearly malicious, Fearne’s own party, renowned for issuing pathetic statements about the most trivial of events, couldn’t find the courage to show any solidarity with its own deputy leader.
Fearne was left to clean up the muck that an invisible hand had tarnished him with, alone. Even Robert Abela failed to stand by his deputy. Abela must have known those trumped-up accusations against Fearne were utterly baseless. Yet he refused to defend his deputy.
In a fit of panic, Carmen Ciantar decided to suspend herself from her post as FMS CEO. Fearne immediately accepted her suspension without pay. He appealed to the police to investigate her swiftly for the truth to prevail.
She wrote to the Police Commissioner stating: “I assure you that I am ready to cooperate fully and unconditionally so that the truth can surface”. She wrote to him again when Angelo Gafa failed to react. She even went before the magistrate asking for the allegations made against her to be investigated.
Now, two months later, Ciantar has issued a statement claiming that “truth and my integrity have won out over the massive and moneyed dark forces which tried to annihilate both”.
But Ciantar didn’t publish any conclusions of any investigation. She was asked whether her statement means that the magistrate or the police have concluded their investigations. But Ciantar, that champion of truth, simply stated that “she has no further comments to make”.
She pompously declared, “Terrible as this experience was and despite the heavy toll it took on me, it nevertheless strengthened my faith in the highest value of all – truth and integrity cannot be vanquished”.
Hearing her statement, you’d think Ciantar is some paragon of virtue. She might not have received half a million euros from Gozo International Medicare Ltd and her daughter never received €3.2 million from any wealthy Russian, but that doesn’t mean she’s some St Theresa of Calcutta.
Chris Fearne broke all the rules to pay her the highest salary in the civil service. He defied the prime minister to protect her. He concealed her contract. He humiliated himself by appointing her young daughter to a sensitive health committee, then lied about it.
Even the prime minister broke his word and let Fearne keep her on that extravagant salary. When The Shift revealed her lavish remuneration, Robert Abela embarrassingly stated that the contract predated his time. “I have the Deputy Prime Minister’s word that the contract will be reviewed once it expires,” Abela announced. Fearne vaguely commented, “When the existing employment contract expires the new employees will be recruited as proposed by the NAO”.
That contract expired with the general election. Instead of revising her contract, Fearne gave her another contract dated 31 May 2022 with the same package and better conditions – Ciantar now decides on her own performance bonus worth €26,000.
Jason Micallef wondered why Abela let Ciantar “continue to humiliate the government as a whole” with her ‘stunt’. But Ciantar claimed that she suspended herself “to be able to fully and serenely defend my integrity, that of the Health Ministry and the entire government”. It takes some ego to claim you’re defending the integrity of “the entire government”.
When the National Audit Office described Ciantar’s €163,000 package as “irregular”, Ciantar denied it was unethical.
She brazenly asked the Standards Commissioner to investigate the ethics of her obscene contract. “I am ready to cooperate in full with the Standards Commissioner so that the truth will out,” she declared in January 2022. “I categorically deny these false and baseless accusations”. They weren’t. They were facts, robustly documented by the NAO.
Ciantar shamelessly claims she values the truth. But she has a long history of hiding the truth. She refused to publish her obscene contract. The FMS rejected a freedom of information request to release it. Ciantar ignored the Data Protection Commissioner’s enforcement notice to make her contract available. She was sent several reminders before she finally relented. That doesn’t sound like somebody who values the truth.
It sounds like somebody who values her obscene pay cheque. No wonder she’s suspended her self-suspension without any explanation. Where is the truth? Certainly not in Ciantar’s self-indulgent statement.