Rita Schembri resigned IAID post in March
Rita Schembri, the head of the Prime Minister’s internal audit and investigations department, resigned post in March.
9 June 2013, 12:00am
The head of the Prime Minister's internal audit and investigations department, Rita Schembri, tendered her resignation from her sensitive post on 26 March 2013 - MaltaToday has learnt - after the National Audit Office completed a far-reaching inquiry into several ethics breaches.
Schembri had suspended herself from work in December 2012 after the IAID's supervisory board, headed by civil service head Godwin Grima, suggested that allegations of conflicts of interest against her be investigated by the Auditor General.
MaltaToday had revealed email correspondence showing that Schembri was conducting undeclared private business from her government offices, and meeting interested parties, to broker a share acquisition in the Casinò di Venezia of Vittoriosa.
Her name came to prominence when John Dalli, the former European commissioner, questioned her double role as a member of the supervisory committee of OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud agency, and her assistance to OLAF director Giovanni Kessler while conducting an investigation on Dalli in Malta.
As head of the IAID, Schembri was also head of Afcos, the anti-fraud coordination service, which assisted OLAF in the investigation and audit of EU funds.
Shortly after the completion of the Dalli investigation, Schembri was promoted to the grade of permanent secretary in September 2012.
Schembri recused herself from her role on the OLAF supervisory committee's assessment of the Dalli investigation, having been part of the investigation in Malta as early as June 2012. She resigned her post on the committee on 16 March 2013.
A damning report by the National Audit Office raised serious doubts about Rita Schembri's suitability to head the IAID, after it declared that she had lied under oath. Such was the extent to which Schembri tried to mislead the NAO's board about her abuse, that the Auditor General's office had to remark how saddened it was at "the irony" of the highly paid permanent secretary "having committed these offences when serving in the role of across-government champion of governance... wherein nothing short of exemplary behaviour is expected".
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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