Malta producers submit complaint to Ombudsman on Film Commissioner's 'corrupt practices'

Malta Producers Association says Johann Grech had changed the Film Commission into his fiefdom, 'working for the benefit of a few'

Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech
Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech

The Malta Producers Association (MPA) has submitted a formal complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman against the Malta Film Commissioner, Johann Grech, after it was revealed how Grech was giving foreign producers a select list of companies to work with, excluding others.

"[Grech] was caught sending a select list of seven production service providers to foreign producers whilst omitting 15 other companies. Since then, little has happened. Johann Grech remains in office and no investigation has started. This can only be described as favouring the message that impunity reigns supreme," the MPA said in a statement on Tuesday.

The association said that its executive committee met with Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli, responsible for the Film Commission, and that though she had "agreed that things had been done wrongly and understood that, given his position, Johann Grech would indeed need to be suspended pending an investigation, little essential has been done."

The association said that the ministry has appointed RSM Malta to carry out an operational review of the commission but criticised such a review as "it falls far short from investigating the evident wrongdoing of a man who has changed the commission into his fiefdom, working for the benefit of a few whilst denying opportunity for all the rest."

The MPA said that it appreciated that this was a time of crisis, with Covid-19 spreading across Europe at an alarming rate, but that this should not mean an exemption for corrupt practices.

"The MPA made it clear that proof, of which there is no shortage, would be presented to a proper independent investigation once the Film Commissioner was removed from his influential seat of power and fear of retribution was thus mitigated. There is enough evidence in the public domain to warrant his dismissal and to start an investigation. In the meeting with the Minister the MPA presented several more examples of the corrupt malpractice and bad governance that the Film Commissioner had been conducting for nearly two years now," the MPA statement read.

It added that non-action in this regard is "unacceptable." 

"By leaving the Film Commissioner in office, with access and ample time to destroy any other evidence of wrongdoing, this is tantamount to obstruction of justice."

The MPA said that it submitted an official complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman in the best interests of the industry.

"With the film industry in complete shut-down world-wide due to Covid-19, this is the perfect time for Malta to straighten up its film industry and set things back on the right track for the good of the industry."

Grech previously occupied the role of head of government marketing.