Former PBS head of news contract under review by station discipline board

A newly-established board of discipline at the Public Broadcasting Services has been tasked to review a contract of employment for its former head of news, Natalino Fenech

Former PBS head of news Natalino Fenech
Former PBS head of news Natalino Fenech

A newly-established board of discipline at the Public Broadcasting Services has been tasked to review a contract of employment for its former head of news, Natalino Fenech.

MaltaToday understands that PBS has already notified Fenech to appear before the board, to discuss his conditions of employment at the national broadcaster, which is still paying him a high-end salary as well as having furnished him with a company vehicle.

But Fenech was replaced as head of news in 2013 by Reno Bugeja, and since then seconded to an unspecified role at the University of Malta.

A severance clause in his contract with the national broadcaster entitled Fenech to three years’ pay were it to terminate his employment prematurely.

But since his employment was never terminated, Fenech remained in the employ of PBS.

The PBS’s board of discipline hearing comes in a bid to clean up various breaches of financial and procurement rules, previously flagged by the broadcaster’s directors.

In 2018, an investigation by the Department of Contracts had found a “flagrant breach” of procurement rules when PBS – on former CEO John Bundy’s watch – took out a €398,000 car leasing contract for eight years.

The investigation led to the director-general contracts to terminate the contract.

The board and CEO locked horns over Bundy’s profligate spending, with the car leasing contract – which totals at least €469,000 when including VAT – becoming the subject of an internal inquiry by auditors RSM.

It emerged that meetings were held with the prospective supplier, Burmarrad Commercials, before the company submitted its ‘winning’ quotation.

There was an additional breach: a €398,000 contract was artificially split into 13 individual contracts, each representing the cars being leased – one of which was for John Bundy.

One of the more curious aspects of the deal was that – according to board minutes seen by MaltaToday – one of the cars was for the exclusive use of Natalino Fenech, the former PBS head of news. According to the directors’ minutes, Fenech was “still on PBS’ payroll with all perks and allowances”, despite his secondment to the University of Malta

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