PBS board sacks CEO John Bundy in unanimous decision

The PBS board of directors has sacked CEO John Bundy after spending just over 14 months in his position

PBS has sacked CEO John Bundy
PBS has sacked CEO John Bundy

The board of directors of Public Broadcasting Services has sacked CEO John Bundy in a unanimous decision at a meeting which was also attended by the company's auditors. Charles Dalli was appointed acting CEO.

Auditors RSM had been asked to investigate alleged irregularities in contracts awarded by the PBS chief executive after he failed to follow key procurement procedures.

Bundy, a former Radio 101 DJ and seasoned televison programme host, was appointed CEO in August 2016 succeeding Anton Attard, who had served since August 2010.

The audit into the procurement of a €500,000 car leasing deal by Bundy confirmed that procurement rules were broken and that Bundy “consistently bullied” his management.

The report was commissioned by the PBS board of directors, who demanded an independent verification of Bundy’s decisions after having taken a no-confidence vote against him.

The €500,000 car deal, which included cars for both Bundy as CEO, and also the PBS’s former head of news Natalino Fenech – who since his departure in 2013, has been seconded to the University of Malta – was never green-lit by the board.

The issue was only raised at board level back on 18 January, 2017, when Bundy referred to the PBS car fleet. “[He] noted that the cars were now old. He had sought advice on whether to buy new cars or go for leasing, and found that it was cheaper to go for leasing.”

Bundy was said to have used a procurement method only employed for minor purchases, by obtaining three quotations from leasing suppliers. The person actually responsible for procurement, corporate services manager Edmund Tabone, was completely side-lined.

MaltaToday had revealed that the PBS’s board of directors had actually voted on a motion of no confidence against Bundy.

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”. In fact, government procurement regulations for such an amount obliged PBS to issue a public tender.

The RSM report also heard witnesses say that Bundy ignored warnings from managers against a hefty advertising barter for a free cruise for participants of the Eurovision Song Contest. Bundy went into a vulgar outburst on being told that the advertising barter for a paid cruise holiday for the Eurovision contenders, would raise eyebrows. “He said ‘I don’t give a damn about the board’,” financial controller Brian Galea said in an affidavit.

A secret vote by PBS directors later delivered a unanimous verdict of no confidence, which was communicated to chairman Tonio Portughese. But ultimately, it is minister Owen Bonnici who would have to assume responsibility for Bundy’s dismissal. Bundy was installed in his position without any formal call for applications for CEO, after the departure of Anton Attard, on a four-year contract.

In their letter to Portughese, the board said they had convened to discuss the way Bundy “had, on several occasions, ignored the board of directors and taken decisions which required the approval of the board”.

The board said it considered Bundy’s attitude towards the PBS directors as one that showed a lack of respect. “Worse than that, it shows a lack of awareness of what the relationship should be between a CEO and the board of directors, which in terms of the law have enormous personal responsibility for everything that happens in the company.”

The directors said they could no longer tolerate the situation and declared they had no faith in Bundy.

More in National