Prime Minister Robert Abela has stayed silent on whether Rabat mayor Sandro Craus will retain a lucrative job handed to him despite pending criminal charges relating to favours given to the middleman in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Following a Freedom of Information request, The Shift revealed that Craus landed a new €65,000 a year government job as chief business development officer at Project Plus, a public entity entrusted with project management of government capital projects.
He resigned from the Office of the Prime Minister shortly after Abela came to power and received the new role a few weeks later. Aside from the package, including a €53,000 basic salary, the FoI shows he will benefit from a performance bonus, a fully expensed car, and communications and expense allowances.
The job title raised eyebrows as the entity only works with other government entities, so there is no actual business to develop. Furthermore, as Craus is also mayor, his contract does not specify any set working times, a location where he is supposed to carry out his job, or even a job description.
Furthermore, according to established public sector rules, employees on the state payroll who face criminal proceedings are automatically suspended on half-pay. If they are found guilty, separate procedures are started by the head of the Public Service, Tony Sultana, to terminate their services.
Shortly after being handed the role, which enjoys “indefinite” states- something unusual in such positions, he was arraigned in court and accused, together with his former boss, disgraced OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, of theft, misappropriation of funds and other criminal offences.
His arraignment followed revelations connected to the middleman, Melvin Theuma, involved in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
But despite this, the silence from Abela and his direct superior, James Camenzuli, the politically appointed CEO of Projects Plus, is deafening.
When asked by The Shift whether public sector procedures to suspend Craus were followed, both Abela and Camenzuli did not respond. They also declined to answer whether Craus is still turning up to work at Projects Plus.
According to court evidence, Craus was the person at the OPM who arranged a phantom government job for Theuma with a government entity.
The move was made shortly after the assassination of the journalist and following a one-to-one private meeting with the alleged assassination fixer and Schembri inside his office at Castille.
According to Theuma, Craus had called him for the meeting, took the picture shown above with Schembri and arranged his government job without asking.
Theuma also admitted that through Craus’s intervention, he started receiving payment for his government ‘job’ even though he never turned up for work.