ARMS Ltd – the government’s utility billing company, has not yet started investigating revelations that its Chief Financial Officer, Marisa Ciappara, is conducting a side business in direct conflict with her role.
Meanwhile, further investigations by The Shift reveal that Ciappara is ‘managing’ her property management business through an unregistered company from her government office while being paid by ARMS.
ARMS sources said that many of the government agency’s top officials, including board members, have known about Ciappara’s double role for years, which may also have involved other members of the Chief Financial Officer’s team.
However, none have taken any action due to Ciappara’s role in the governing Labour Party.
Apart from being one of ARMS’s top officials, Ciappara, an accountant, also doubles as the Labour Party’s official treasurer.
Miriam Dalli, the minister directly responsible for ARMS, has not yet commented on the latest scandal involving one of her top officials.
Asked by The Shift to state whether she was aware of Ciappara’s side business and the fact it is being run on government time, Dalli – currently under pressure due to her Enemalta woes – did not respond.
The minister also refused to say what action is being taken, if any.
The Shift revealed how Ciappara, the chief financial officer of ARMS since 2018, has been managing JPM Administrators on the side of her top job at the government agency.
Raising the eyebrows of many inside the company as Ciappara is the only official with direct access to data about the utility bills of properties and businesses around the country, her role at JPM is considered a direct conflict of interest. This is in addition to the fact she manages the business while on duty at ARMS.
The revelations come only weeks after The Shift revealed a new ‘racket’ coordinated by the Office of the Prime Minister through which customer care officials are contacted by ministries to try to avoid the suspension of water and electricity services to constituents despite overdue bills.
The Shift was told that Ciappara has the final say at ARMS on which services are disconnected and which get an extended grace period.
Sources claim that this also puts her in apparent conflict as the private business she manages is also responsible for the settlement of utility bills for common areas in private blocks of apartments, among others.
Soon after The Shift’s revelations on her private business, the website of JPM administrators taken offline along with its social media pages.
When JPM was contacted by The Shift, Ciappara answered the call while at her office at ARMS.
Asked how she was administering her business while acting as ARMS CFO, Ciappara said this was “her private affairs” and hung up.
She also refused to answer questions by email.
Discipline at ARMS is the role of the board of directors, currently led by Nadia Pace – a government appointee from Zurrieq – minister Miriam Dalli’s constituency.
Pace also receives consultancy contracts from Malta Enterprise, also in Dalli’s portfolio.