Club owner Mark Grima moves from ‘Ministry of Time’ to Mallia’s ministry

Paceville owner whose lobby was fronted by Manuel Mallia, is now the communications coordinator for the minister of competitiveness

Mark Grima, now communications coordinator with Manuel Mallia
Mark Grima, now communications coordinator with Manuel Mallia

Competitiveness minister Manuel Mallia has engaged entrepreneur Mark Grima as communications coordinator, the nightclub owner confirmed.

The veteran Paceville entrepreneur, whose business interests have included Ministry of Time, Fuego, Raffles Discotheque and The Alley is now the minister’s full time PR man.

In 2012, Mallia addressed a press conference as legal representative of the Paceville Commercial Establishments Association, of which Grima is still listed as its president.

Speaking to MaltaToday, a ministry official clarified that Minister Mallia never served as legal counsel to Mark Grima on a personal basis, and that the competitiveness  minister was one of several lawyers representing the Paceville Commercial Establishments Association.

Now the two have teamed up again, with Grima earning at least €26,000 a year to go by the regular salaries accorded to ministerial spokespersons.

Speaking to MaltaToday, the entrepreneur – listed as Mark William Grima on the ministry’s website – confirmed that he has been working at the ministry for two months.

However when asked further questions, including whether he is still involved in the entertainment industry, Grima retorted “are you running a story on this?” to which he added: “in that case, then I have no comment to give.”

On various social media sites, Grima lists himself as owner and director of Fuego Casa Latina, Pizza Factory, The Hot Sausage Company, and Good Bites Fresh Beef Premium Burgers.

Grima – son of former Labour minister Joe Grima – was also a director and journalist at the radio station owned by his father, Radio One Live.

Over the years, Grima and his companies have faced a number of legal proceedings, including a number of claims for unpaid debts running into tens of thousands of euros by various companies and the VAT department, according to credit records from 2014.

Manuel Mallia – reinstated in the Cabinet of ministers earlier this year after being fired in 2014 – had previously employed entrepreneur Silvio Scerri as his chief of staff when still home affairs minister.

Now responsible for gaming and the maritime industry, Mallia was dismissed after an inquiry was held into a shooting incident involving his security driver, Paul Sheehan. His staff of the time – 19 employees – were moved to other government posts, with Scerri taking up sojourn in the private secretariat of home affairs minister Carmelo Abela, with duties in Gozo.

Scerri appears to have divested himself of any directorial responsibility or shareholding in Nexos, the lighting company which he was formerly associated with. He was not reappointed on Mallia’s staff since his reappointment to the competitiveness ministry in the Cabinet reshuffle that was provoked by the Panama Papers.

Scerri has now taken up a lucrative post at Transport Malta, chief of security, one that had formerly paid his predecessor, Ernest Tonna – a canvasser of former minister Austin Gatt – over €50,000 according to PQs.