Lack of meritocracy eroding good governance, enabling corruption and abuse

27 June 2024

Svetlana Muscat’s alleged facilitation of illicit meetings in her prison office for Yorgen Fenech, who is in custody pending trial for Daphne’s murder, spotlights the lack of meritocracy in the public service which is eroding good governance and enabling corruption and abuse. Muscat’s appointment appears to violate Council of Europe prison rules, particularly rules 76 and 77 on the need for prison staff to be carefully selected, properly trained, and have the professional capacity and personal suitability for their role. Muscat’s alleged actions undermine the stability of the prison system. A rehabilitative facility cannot afford to provide privileges that breach prison rules to select individuals held in custody.

Muscat occupies the position of Head of Strategy at Malta’s prison, a role that, until her suspension this week, put her in contact with those held in custody in connection with serious crime. Her directorship of companies linked to Ruja Ignatova’s OneCoin scam and her appointments on multiple companies enabled by Iosif Galea, who now stands charged with financial crime, should have disqualified her from any role in the Correctional Services Agency.

Muscat’s LinkedIn profile shows that her longest professional experience is as producer and presenter at One Productions Ltd and a Ministerial aide. At best, her appointment to Malta’s prison service reflects yet another instance of the public service being abused to pay off One employees and others closely linked to the governing party to the detriment of the public interest it is meant to serve. At worst, the alleged abuse of her role to facilitate illicit meetings in prison for those accused of serious crime is suggestive that criminal, corrupt or unethical influence has infiltrated the structures that are meant to prevent it.

Our lawyers will be writing to the Commissioner of Police, to the Minister for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality of Malta, and to the prison authorities to denounce these events and to raise questions about the method and purpose of Muscat’s appointment and how and why illicit or improper meetings in her office were enabled.