The treasurer of the Labour Party, Marisa Ciappara, also Chief Financial Officer at the government’s energy billing company ARMS Ltd since 2018, appears to be involved in a private side business offering “property management services” to clients.
While Ciappara refused to confirm whether she has a side business, the mobile number listed on her ARMS business card is also used on marketing material for JPM Administrators, which advertises itself as Malta’s “premier choice for property management”.
As CFO of ARMS, Ciappara has oversight on the utility bills of all Maltese properties and businesses, raising severe concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
JPM Administrators operates from an apartment in a residential complex in Triq it-Turisti, Buġibba, and Ciappara lists her mobile number on all the company’s advertising, positioning her as the prime contact for all services required in the management of properties, Airbnb, and condominiums.
According to its website, the company has been active for several years, yet JPM Administrators is not registered with the Malta Business Registry (MBR).
It is illegal to operate a business without MBR registration, and all entities must comply with laws related to audits. Ciappara is an accountant whose duty is to ensure these laws are observed.
When The Shift called JPM Administrators on one of its advertised contact numbers, Ciappara answered during office hours when she should be doing her job at ARMS Ltd.
Asked to state her involvement in JPM Administrators while officially working as CFO at ARMS, Ciappara refused to answer, saying this was her “personal life”.
When The Shift pointed out that clarification was needed considering possible conflicts of interest, Ciappara hung up.
The Shift sent several emails to Ciappara asking questions related to her role at JPM Administrators, to explain why the ‘company’ is not registered at the MBR and to state whether her employer, notably the CEO and the board of ARMS Ltd, were notified of whether she had a side business and if they had given their approval if that were the case.
The Shift also asked Ciappara whether she had declared any income from the entity advertising her mobile number, whether she has any partners in the business and whether paying utility bills on behalf of her private clients was part of the property management services offered.
No replies were received from Ciappara by the time of writing, even though she confirmed that she had seen the questions.
Soon after The Shift sent questions to Ciappara, JPM Administrators’ website and Facebook page were taken down.
This is the second instance in a few weeks where the ARMS finance chief has been implicated in a potentially serious conflict of interest.
The Shift first mentioned Ciappara as having a potential conflict between her political role as PL treasurer, accounting for massive donations from big business, and her responsibility as CFO at ARMS to decide who should have electricity and water supply suspended due to defaults.
As CFO, Ciappara has access to data on all the utility bills on the island.
ARMS sources told The Shift that among the known defaulters are many large businesses, many of which are donors to the Labour Party and the commercial companies of both the PL and the PN.
The Shift revealed how a new racket ‘helping’ defaulters of utility bills has been informally established between the OPM and customer care officials at ARMS to facilitate the postponement of overdue bills.
After MEP candidate Arnold Cassola flagged the racket, The Shift found how customer care officials inside ministries, including the OPM, have been given the contact of three senior managers at ARMS (The Shift is withholding their names for the time being as verification processes are still ongoing) who pressure the company’s credit control office not to enforce such final notices for specific people.
Sources confirmed that the final decision was in Ciappara’s hands.
The Shift was also informed that on some occasions, Labour MPs also call and send messages to Ciappara, soliciting ‘help’ for their constituents.
The Shift sent Ciappara information on ARMS officials tasked with ‘helping’ specific individuals and asked whether she had decided to postpone or cancel disconnection orders following their recommendations. She did not reply.
Apart from PL treasurer and CFO at ARMS, Ciappara is also a director of MLP Holdings Ltd, One Productions Ltd and the secretary of Orpheum Theatre Ltd and Sound Vision Print Ltd, all owned by the Labour Party.
She is also the director of the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation Plc and the board secretary of Petromal Holdings Company Ltd – two wholly owned government companies from which she also receives remuneration.