The Malta Independent 13 December 2018, Thursday

Brian Tonna was given €55,000 a year consultancy contract by Justice Minister

Thursday, 6 December 2018, 14:04 Last update: about 7 days ago

Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna was given a government consultancy role worth almost €60,000 a year, according to a Reuters report.

Information received by Times of Malta after a freedom of information request and shared with Reuters shows that Tonna was hired as an adviser to Justice and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici. He held the consultancy full-time from August 2014 to August 2016, and part-time from then until August 31, 2017.

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The contracts show his full-time contract was worth €54,684 a year, plus €7,474 in allowances for his expenses, including for his car and mobile phone. The part-time contract was worth €38,241 plus €3,736 in expenses.

By comparison, the Prime Minister earns €55,978 plus €6,769 euros in allowances. The information was given to Reuters by an OPM spokesman.

Nexia BT set up the infamous Panama companies for Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi. More recently it was revealed that Tonna was involved in the power station evaluation committee.

Simon Busuttil, a former leader of the opposition Nationalist Party in Malta, told Reuters that Tonna’s work as a personal accountant for government figures and his government contracts created a conflict of interest. “The bar for ethical standards has now been lowered so far by this government, it has been crushed into the ground,” he said.

Tonna declined to comment. A spokesman for Prime Minister said Joseph Muscat was not involved in granting Tonna’s government contract.

Reuters said the consultancy role was in addition to previously disclosed business contracts, worth more than €800,000, awarded by other government ministries to NexiaBT.

In a statement, a spokesman for Bonnici said that Tonna and NexiaBT “offered advice and technical guidance on purely financial matters relating to infrastructural projects in the field of culture.” Asked if Tonna’s employment involved any conflicts of interest and how this was managed, the spokesman did not respond.

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