Inquiry into missing FSWS national insurance payments: chairman suspended

Ministry appoints inquiry to probe missing NI payments as social welfare boss suspends himself 

Joe Gerada has “suspended himself from his duties” as chairperson of the foundation.
Joe Gerada has “suspended himself from his duties” as chairperson of the foundation.

An independent inquiry will probe how 400 employees of the social welfare foundation ended up with missing pension contributions totalling €10 million. 

The missing national insurance contributions go back to the period between 2000 and 2007 but workers only realised now when they started reaching retirement age. 

The Social Justice Ministry told MaltaToday that it appointed a board for an independent inquiry. The inquiry is led by retired judge Antonio Mizzi. 

No information was given as to who the other board members are. 

The ministry added that the current chairperson of the Foundation for Social Welfare Services and minister’s adviser, Joe Gerada, has “suspended himself from his duties”. 

Gerada was CEO of FSWS during the period under scrutiny. 

Asked whether the ministry has called in the police to investigate the case, a spokesperson said: “At this stage, the ministry will wait for the results of the independent inquiry, while leaving all options open.” 

MaltaToday reported a fortnight ago that when the case came to light Gerada informed board members that he had also been a victim of the incident. 

However, although Gerada had rectified his personal situation upon reaching retirement age, he failed to flag the problem to higher authorities. 

Gerada had told fellow FSWS board members that his belief was that the NI contributions had been paid but were not credited to the individuals because of some mistake by a payroll clerk. 

The case was revealed by the UĦM’s online news bulletin, Voice of the Workers, which highlighted the plight of employees who only recently found out about their missing NI contributions. 

The money had been deducted from their salary but never credited towards their pension. 

Government has pledged to rectify the situation and the current management at FSWS under CEO Alfred Grixti’s helm has told employees none of them will lose out on their pension. 

In a statement released a couple of weeks ago, the senior management team at FSWS distanced itself from the problems between 2000 and 2007 and expressed “full solidarity” with affected employees.