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Bundy made unauthorised entry in PBS chairman’s office to take minutes

Sacked PBS CEO John Bundy was asked to explain why he entered the office of chairman Tonio Portughese without permission to take out documents

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
15 November 2017, 9:31am
John Bundy
John Bundy
The sacked Public Broadcasting Services chief executive officer John Bundy is suspected of having entered the chairman’s office without permission, to take documents and make copies of board minutes.

MaltaToday is in a position to confirm that Bundy, sacked last week after an internal inquiry held by PBS auditors RSM, refused to explain himself when formally asked about this episode by the PBS board.

The board of directors realised that Bundy had admitted himself into the office of chairman Tonio Portughese some time after the RSM inquiry presented its initial findings into an abusive procurement of company cars.

The board had already informed Bundy in a previous written communication, not to take out any documents from the chairman’s office, after having been witnessed entering the chairman’s office.

When this episode repeated itself, the board requested Bundy again in a written communication, to explain his unauthorised presence in Portughese’s office, where he exited with a number of documents as well as the company board’s minutes. The minutes were placed back inside the room after he had made several copies of them.

He did not reply to the written request.

A request by MaltaToday communicated to him via SMS to comment on the allegations was also not answered. MaltaToday is informed that a sworn testimony of the allegation was presented to the board of directors.

On Monday, Bundy was also reported to have authorised salary bumps of some €10,000, backdated some five months in promotions now being investigated by the national broadcaster.

The salary increases, without board approval, were allegedly made as Bundy faced growing pressure from the PBS board, that demanded his resignation.

Bundy was ousted from his position at PBS last week after an audit report found he had broken procurement rules.

The audit report found a “clear breach of procurement rules” both internally as well as the rules laid down in the Public Procurement Regulations.

At the heart of the audit was an unprecedented €500,000 car leasing deal from Burmarrad Commercials that Bundy was said to have carried out without seeking the green light from the PBS board.

The director of contracts is now tasked to consider the 70-page audit’s findings, and see whether they should be forwarded to the National Audit Office or to the police.

Specifically, the audit report shows that only two weeks after he started in his role as CEO, Bundy, on 16 August, “intimated” with staff members about the procurement of a new car fleet for the television station.

Later, instead of buying the cars, he negotiated the lease agreement, and an original nine-car fleet was replaced by 14 cars. One of them was his own car, a Peugeot 508.

And while all cars had a Datatrak device to keep track of the vehicles, his car was the only one without the tracking device.

Central to the audit was the revelation that Bundy had unilaterally secured a massive €500,000 leasing contract for motor vehicles carried out in breach of procurement rules.

In minutes from a directors’ meeting seen by MaltaToday, the politically-appointed CEO was said to have ignored contract rules when PBS signed 14 different contracts for a total of €500,131 to lease cars for the unprecedented duration of eight years.

Bundy, a veteran television presenter hand-picked by the Labour administration without a public call, was said to have only once alerted the board of directors about the possibility of car leasing. But the contract itself was never green-lit by the board.

Bundy was said to have used a basic procedure only employed for minor purchases, by obtaining three quotations from leasing suppliers. In total, 14 different contracts were signed for a total value of €4,415 monthly, plus VAT: for the contract duration of eight years, the amount totals €500,131. The directors said that the leasing of cars for a period of eight years was “not considered as the norm”. 

PBS’s board of directors later voted on a motion of no confidence against Bundy, delivering a unanimous verdict. In their letter to Portughese, the directors said Bundy “had, on several occasions, ignored the board of directors and taken decisions which required the approval of the board”.ß

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.