Daniel Bogdanovic’s negro is John Dalli’s former assistant
The real author of a € 15,000 report commissioned by Education Minister Justyne Caruana and allegedly written by her boyfriend Daniel Bogdanovic is in fact a former collaborator of disgraced former EU commissioner John Dalli.
An as yet unpublished investigation by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler, which found that the education minister had violated the code of ethics, indicates that the real author was one of Caruana’s publicly paid consultants, Paul Debattista.
Debattista, now of retirement age, was put on Caruana’s payroll as one of its consultants in December 2020 shortly after Prime Minister Robert Abela decided to reinstate MP Gozitan in her office, just months after being forced to resign because of her then-husband. (Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta) close ties with Yorgen Fenech who is accused of having ordered the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Debattista holds a doctorate in industrial chemistry. He joined Labor in 2013 after having spent much of his professional life with the local wine producer Marsovin where he held the position of CEO of the group. He was the general manager of the now defunct Lowenbrau brewery, which was part of the same group.
He became close to Dalli through his work at Marsovin, where Dalli had been a consultant.
In 2008, shortly after Dalli was appointed Minister of Health and Social Policy, Debattista joined him and was appointed CEO of the Housing Authority. After Dalli left for Brussels, Debattista remained on the government’s payroll and was appointed to the Management Effectiveness Unit.
Shortly after the change of government in 2013, Debattista immediately switched to the Labor Party and joined then parliamentary secretary Stefan Buontempo, who was made responsible for sport, research and innovation.
A year later, Debattista left Buontempo to join the private secretariat of then-finance minister Edward Scicluna, serving as chief of staff until the minister’s resignation in 2020.
Scicluna also appointed Debattista as Malta’s representative to the board of directors of the European Investment Bank (EIB) – a post he still holds. Yet he also joined Justyne Caruana’s secretariat as one of his consultants.
Concerted effort to hide the truth
Reporting the findings of the Standards Commissioner’s investigation into the € 15,000 (for three months) contract the Education Minister awarded to the man with whom she has a relationship, The Times of Malta said that Hyzler had struggled to establish the truth.
As Minister Caruana and her permanent secretary, Frank Fabri, tried to cover up who decided to award the contract to Bogdanovic, Paul Debattista confirmed that it was the minister who commissioned the report.
Although Debattista did not admit that he was the author of the report, it was he who handed a scanned copy to the Commissioner, claiming that he obtained it from anonymous Gozitan friends.
It was only after reviewing the data in the emails that Hyzler concluded that the report was written, almost in its entirety, by Debattista.
Frank Fabri pictured again
This is not the first time that the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education, Frank Fabri, has been uncooperative in an investigation.
As permanent secretary reporting to the Prime Minister, Fabri is obligated to ensure that no public resources are wasted and to respect the principles of transparency and accountability. Still, the Standards Commissioner noted his lack of responses when asked to clarify who had decided to give the direct order to Bogdanovic.
Fabri, a former mayor of Rabat, had used the same tactic in court before for other serious complaints.
In 2010, police filed a complaint against the owner of a cleaning service company, John Borg, alleging that he bribed Fabri when he was head of Rabat town hall.
Yet Borg, later acquitted, said it was Fabri who solicited the bribes. Borg told police he was paying Fabri 150 Lm (350 €) per month for a cleaning contract at Rabat town hall.
Borg provided the police with tapes of telephone conversations in which he had recounted his dealings with Fabri. He also said the former mayor asked him for a raise, demanding 250 Lm (€ 575) per month. Borg’s contract was terminated when Borg refused.
When asked to testify in court on the allegations made by the contractor, Fabri chose to exercise her right not to respond. No other witnesses have been produced by the prosecution (police) to testify on the alleged corruption.
The police never arrested Fabri on this matter.
Fabri resigned his post in 2007, although he was still popular mayor at the time. It was a year after the alleged bribes occurred. He said he wanted to focus on his career and take a directorial position in the Department of Education.
After Labor returned to power, Fabri was appointed permanent secretary. He has already been presented as dishonored by the choice of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to replace Mario Cutajar as Principal Permanent Secretary.