PBS director supplied Robert Abela’s New York tickets

The €30,000 direct order to Norman Hamilton for flights to New York is just a slice of the direct orders the OPM is dishing out ahead of elections.


Hamilton Travel, owned by Labour stalwart and PBS board member Norman Hamilton, was chosen by the Office of the Prime Minister to supply almost €30,000 worth of flight tickets so that Robert Abela, his wife Lydia, and aides could fly to the US last September.

Instead of seeking quotations, as required by public procurement rules, Castille opted for a direct order to purchase the New York flights, earning the 82-year-old former ONE TV broadcaster a good commission.

Hamilton, a staunch Labour Party militant and former boss of the state broadcaster during the 1980s when it was known as Xandir Malta, was appointed to the board of its successor, PBS, this year.

According to information published in the Government Gazette, Abela’s office spent €29,000 on flights and another €32,000 at the Westin Grand Central, an American upscale hotel chain owned by Marriott International. in New York.

The prime minister’s trip to New York was to address the UN General Assembly. Since former disgraced prime minister Joseph Muscat was elected to power in 2013, it has become customary for the prime minister’s wife and children to take a free ride to New York annually.

Michelle Muscat and her twins used to visit every year, and it seems Lydia Abela has continued the practice.

More on the OPM’s spending

Further expenditure by the Office of the Prime Minister published in the Government Gazette shows another €200,000 last year in contracts to promote the annual budget exercise – all through direct orders.

Most services were procured from companies that will service Labour’s electoral campaign for the MEP elections in June.

Among the most significant contracts awarded was €69,000 to Weebee Ltd for the provision of “media buy”. The same company hosts the PL’s website. The company was embroiled in a scandal involving a massive leak of data from the Lands Authority.

Justin Farrugia, with his brother Kurt Farrugia, former Head of Government Communications for Joseph Muscat, then appointed CEO of Malta Enterprise.

Sharp Shoot Media, owned by Justin Farrugia, brother of Malta Enterprise CEO Kurt Farrugia, received €27,000 for filming.

Sam Dalli, brother of PBS Chief Editor Charles Dalli, was paid €13,000 for providing budget adverts through his company Emineo (Tribe).

Ikona Artworks, a small advertising agency owned by two former ONE TV employees, was given two direct orders worth €65,000.

During the same period, TEC Ltd, owned by Charles Magro and usually part of every PL political campaign, was paid €12,000 through another direct order for the “provision of a dome tent” for an undisclosed fundraising event.

The same dome is usually used for Labour’s political activities.


Sign up to our newsletter

Stay in the know

Get special updates directly in your inbox
Don't worry we do not spam
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
21 days ago

Isn’t this money laundering taxpayer’s money?

20 days ago
Reply to  makjavel

No, I don’t think so.

The article quotes money dished out for services, but first we have to check if the services were justifiably needed.
Second, we have to check if the services were provided, in reality.
Third, check what compensation do the market competitors ask for the same provided services.
If the services, were not needed, or no services were provided, or the cost is higher than the competitors, I think someone should be able to have access to all information and resources to be able to investigate unimpeded.

However, I think that due to Malta isolated nature, these kind of direct orders can be justified by the lack of competitors or individuals capable of providing certain services.
Secondly, due to us allowing companies/individuals under qouting and then requesting more money for the same job, as well as permitting lack of historical transparency, in pricing and pricing calculations, we don’t know if competitors are lying about their prices and their margins.

I don’t understand direct orders, but I doubt that institutions or individuals that issue them, take note, fully take into consideration and than maintain this kind of comparative information, especially if you need to do a Freedom of information request and then get denied or rejected due to commercial sensitivity.

It’s funny that in these cases, businesses are more sensitive than the population that keeps them in business.

21 days ago

kulhadd (mill-muvument korrott) JITHANZER. Isthu mill-haddiem onest.

Mike Gatt
Mike Gatt
21 days ago

Looks like our Bobby cost us more than the whole cabinets worth of honoraria single handedly, this was wildly acclaimed to be daylight robbery by his predecessor the Prime Minister for corruption Joseph Muscat.

20 days ago

The usual suspects that flaunt their wealth but would have nothing if they weren’t connected?

Related Stories

The government’s crisis management tactics remain unchanged
Over the last couple of weeks,  government officials have
MFSA CEO silent as Edward Scicluna would not meet ‘fit and proper’ rules
Central Bank Governor Edward Scicluna, facing criminal charges in

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo