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Company denies being paid for works it did not carry out for Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools

Avantgarde Projects has denied having been paid for works, explaining that it accepted a lower payment to avoid protracted court action

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan
18 January 2017, 11:26am
Education minister Evarist Bartolo had signed off over €400,000 in payments to a Avantgarde Projects for unapproved works carried out at St Ignatius College
Education minister Evarist Bartolo had signed off over €400,000 in payments to a Avantgarde Projects for unapproved works carried out at St Ignatius College
Avantgarde Projects has denied having been paid for works it did not do at Handaq government school, as reported in The Sunday Times.

Refuting the allegations, the company explained that it accepted a lower payment than it had invoiced solely to avoid protracted court action.

The report claims that in 2015, education minister Evarist Bartolo had signed off over €400,000 in payments to a private company – Avantgarde Projects – for unapproved works carried out at St Ignatius College, despite resistance from the board of the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools (FTS). According to the report, over the course of the works, the contractor started claiming higher fees than those which had been previously agreed on.

Following allegations made by FTS chief executive officer Philip Rizzo, the police launched a probe into corruption allegations to investigate serious discrepancies arising from works not carried out – but paid for by the FTS – and the role played by Evarist Bartolo’s aide Edward Caruana. 

In a statement issued yesterday, the company said that after being awarded a tender in 2011 by the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools to carry out works at the school, it was then requested to carry out additional work which was not included in the contract.

The company started facing difficulties when in August 2012 FTS stopped payments “without justification and failed to handover substantial parts of the site for the works to be completed on time.”

For this reason, the company said it incurred additional expenses but once the foundation released the site, the works were completed.

After issuing an invoice for all the works, the company claimed that FTS refused to pay up, for no good reason.

Avantgarde Projects added that it then handed a dossier of the facts to FTS, the Director of Contracts and then Education Minister Dolores Cristina. After the general election the same document was handed to minister Evarist Bartolo.

It said that the payment handed to it in November 2015 was far lower than what was invoiced, but it accepted the foundation’s offer to avoid years of court litigation and honour commitments it entered into over the same Handaq project.

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...