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Government starts court proceedings to regain Casino Di Venezia

Government starts court proceedings to regain three pieces of land in Birgu after the companies leasing them fall behind in their rent

Staff Reporter
16 May 2015, 5:11pm
The government has commenced court proceedings to regain three pieces of land in Birgu, including the former Casino Di Venezia building.

In a statement, the government said that it has filed a court order against Port Cottonera Hotel Development Ltd, Galleys Development Ltd, and Vittoriosa Gaming Ltd. The Lands Commissioner has requested the Court to order these three companies to settle their outstanding arrears in ground rent and return the land to the government.

The government recounted how the Lands Commissioner had granted a number of buildings in Birgu to Port Cottonera Ltd on a 99-year temporary emphyteusis. According to the contract, Port Cottonera was required to pay the government €582,343.55 per year after an initial four-year rebate.

Their rent was to increase by 15% every 10 years, and the government maintained the right to rip up the contract if Port Cottonera had arrears after two consecutive rent payments.

On 24 April 2001, Port Cottonera Ltd sub-leased parts of the Port Cottonera Emphyteutical Site to Scamps Development Co. Ltd, Galleys Development Co. Ltd, and Port Cottonera Hotel Development Co. Ltd.

On 29 October 2002, Port Cottonera Ltd sold its emphyteutical rights to parts of the Port Cottonera Emphyteutical Site- where the Casino di Venezia is located – to Galleys Development Co. Ltd.

On the same day, Scamps Developments, Galleys Development and Port Cottonera Hotel Development declared their co-responsibility for paying Lm 175,000 (70% of the Port Cottonera Emphyteutical Site) in ground rent, with Port Cottonera Ltd responsible for the remaining Lm75,000.

On 28 June 2011, Scamps Development sold its sub-lease of part of the Port Cottonera Emphyteutical Site, where the Casino Di Venezia stands, to Vittoriosa Gaming Limited.

The government said that more than two ground rent payments are now due for the Port Cottonera Emphyteutical Site- the Casino Di Venezia site, the ‘Residence of the Palace of the Captain of the Galleys’ Squadron’, and a piece of land of 2,500 square metres. The Lands Commissioner had sent the companies an offical letter to pay their rents, but they have not done so

The government has therefore asked the court to to declare that the companies have fallen behind on their rents, that they have breached their contracts with the government, that they must pay the Lands Commissioner the amount of arrears owwed, and that their land be returned to the government.

“The government is sending a clear message that no one is allowed to abuse their lands and properties,” competitiveness parliamentary secretary Jose Herrera said. “The government wants to regenerate these areas because it fully believes in their potential to help Malta improve its touristic product.”

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