New cannabis boss, 28, is an associate of prime minister’s brother-in-law

The government has resorted to another partisan appointment, to the point of nepotism, to head the regulatory authority on Cannabis by appointing a 28-year-old lawyer who is an associate of Prime Minister Robert Abela’s brother-in-law.

Joey Reno Vella, from Zabbar, graduated only a few years ago, in 2019.

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri announced his appointment as the new Executive Chairman of ARUC (Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis) — the third such appointment in two years.

Vella was given several government retainers during the past years and is primarily known in Court as the assistant of lawyer Albert Zerafa, the brother-in-law of Prime Minister Robert Abela.

Vella, a footballer for Fgura United, has worked in Zerafa’s office since he graduated and practised law with Lydia Abela’s brother. He often accompanies Zerafa in court and appears for the firm’s clients in his stead.

The 28-year-old’s only connection to the Cannabis regulator was his appointment by Minister Owen Bonnici in 2021 as board secretary of ARUC, tasked with taking care of board meeting minutes.

For some time after his graduation, Vella, from Zabbar, was engaged by Minister Owen Bonnici as a person of trust since he hails from the minister’s electoral district.

Vella was also awarded several contracts from entities, including the Housing Authority and ARMS Ltd. Bonnici also appointed him to Jobsplus’s board of directors.

Recently, Minister Byron Camilleri also appointed Vella a member of an Immigration Appeals Board.

It seems that following the change of two executive chairpersons at the regulator, the government found it difficult to find people of a certain standing to accept this appointment.

Vella is the third to head ARUC in two years.

Mariella Dimech was the first to lead ARUC and was fired after ten months for failing to achieve results.

In 2022, Mariella Dimech, a former Caritas official and sister of Labour’s spin doctor Saviour Balzan, was the first chairperson appointed by Minister Bonnici.

Ten months later, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri fired her for failing to achieve results. She was then given another government job, this time advising on drug use prevention.

Soon after, another former Caritas official, Leonid McKay, replaced her. He lasted a year and was moved to JobsPlus last week.


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28 days ago

Ah just as Abela did with Ryan Christopher Pace. Shocking corruption in Malta.

27 days ago

another pig in the trough

Ray Farrugia
Ray Farrugia
27 days ago

Malta TAGHHOM ilkoll. No surprise.

paul pullicino
paul pullicino
27 days ago

The illegal sale of cannabis has not stopped.ARUC is just a front.

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