Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.

Bonnici: Zaren Vassallo’s €250,000 loan sop to PN for Qormi land

Owen Bonnici said he was challenging Opposition leader Simon Busuttil to publish “clear proof” the PN has paid back €250,000 loan Nazzareno Vassallo gave to the party “days after the Qormi deal.”

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
14 January 2017, 12:27pm
Justice minister Owen Bonnici
Justice minister Owen Bonnici
Justice Minister Owen Bonnici has suggested that the Nationalist Party received a loan from benefactor Nazzareno Vassallo, at a time when the party in government allowed the construction magnate to acquire a 21,000 square-metre tract of government land, freehold.

The PN's terse one-liner statement to the press conference came in three words: "Get a life", sent in a press statement.

Bonnici is leading a campaign against former lands minister Jason Azzopardi, after the Auditor General said in a report that under his watch the land in Qormi formerly leased to the Marsovin winery, was “devalued” just before Marsovin sold it to Vassallo Builders in 2009. Specifically, the Lands Department removed a costly condition that the land be used only as a brewery, allowing Marsovin to redeem the ground rent for some €400,000 before selling just a month later to Vassallo.

Azzopardi has sued Bonnici for defamation, but the minister claims he has information in hand which the NAO was not even privy to.

The NAO claims the land in question was valued at €8 million, but when Azzopardi in 2011 sought to bump up the price after the Opposition cried foul, a committee of architects only valued the direct dominium – the condition at which the government leased the land for the brewery – and pushed the price up to €700,000. Vassallo is contesting the revaluation in court.

Bonnici now said he was challenging Opposition leader Simon Busuttil to publish “a clear proof” that the PN has paid back the €250,000 loan Nazzareno Vassallo gave to the party “days after the Qormi deal.”

“It was PN secretary-general Paul Borg Olivier himself who confirmed the €250,000 loan from Vassallo at a time when the PN was facing cash flow problems. It is legitimate now that questions are asked: is it a coincidence that this loan was granted after a compromise was found between Jason Azzopardi and Zaren Vassallo?”

Bonnici also said he was challenging Busuttil to disclose whether Vassallo had loaned the PN money under its recent ‘cedoli’ scheme. “Busuttil never fails to accuse anybody of being corrupt, even the European Commission for approving the LNG power plant.”

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.