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EXCLUSIVE | Delia and Cardona resigned directorship of company owning Soho brothel after police raid

At one point, Adrian Delia and Chris Cardona were directors of the company that owned a London property that was sublet by a tenant to a prostitution racket. The rent of this property could have passed through Delia’s offshore account in Jersey

matthew_agius yannick_pace
Matthew Agius / Yannick Pace
29 August 2017, 4:06pm
Both Chris Cardona and Adrian Delia at one point resigned from directors of the company owning the London properties in question
Both Chris Cardona and Adrian Delia at one point resigned from directors of the company owning the London properties in question
Nationalist Party leadership contender Adrian Delia was a director of Healey Properties Limited, the company that owned 52, Greek Street in London – a property that was raided by London police during Operation Pabail, an investigation into a prostitution racket.

Documents seen by MaltaToday include a board resolution showing Healey Properties – registered in the Bahamas – accepting the resignation as directors of both Adrian Delia and Chris Cardona, who is today economy minister and Labour deputy leader for party affairs.

The document is dated 2 December 2003 and is signed by Delia only.

The two men were replaced as directors by two companies, one of which appears to be registered in the UK, and the second in the British Virgin Islands.

Delia’s candidature for the PN leadership was rocked by allegations first published by Daphne Caruana Galizia indicating Delia, a lawyer, used an offshore account in Jersey to receive rental payments for various properties in London’s Soho district, that were used in a prostitution racket.

MaltaToday is still awaiting comments from Delia and Cardona.

READ HERE ACCOUNT OF THE PROSTITUTION RACKET IN ‘OPERATION PABAIL’

Caruana Galizia published a letter from a London law firm acting on behalf of tenant Emmanuel Bajada – who in an unrelated case in Malta in 2005 was charged with living off earnings from prostitution – addressed to Delia.

The lawyers, Carter Lemon Camerons (CLC) claim in their letter that Bajada was instructed, as tenant of several properties, to pass on the rent to two companies that owned the houses – Healey Properties Limited, and AAS Freight Services (which MaltaToday has not yet managed to trace, possibly due to the company having changed its name).

New documents seen by this newspaper show the 52 Greek Street address as well other properties, were indeed at the centre of activity of a well-established prostitution ring in London: after a raid on the properties in July 2003, Harrow Crown Court found three women – Guilnara Gadzijeva, Vethasalem Muruganathan and Olga Chukanova – guilty of running a lucrative prostitution business out of several addresses in the Mayfair and Soho area. 52 Greek Street and 16 Stanhope Row were two of the addresses out of which Gadzijeva and her associates were operating.

Did the Bajadas use Jersey to transfer ill-gotten earnings?

While MaltaToday has no reason to doubt the authenticity of the documents in its possession it must be stated that, like those published by Caruana Galizia, they likely represent only a snapshot of the complete picture.

So far, the only documents directly linking Delia are the board resolution in MaltaToday’s possession, and the letter published by Caruana Galizia, referencing Delia.

MaltaToday’s source claims that both Delia and Cardona were appointed as directors to Healey Properties upon its formation, which according to the ICIJ database, was January 1999.

What is clear is that legal letters sent between involved parties suggest that the Bajadas were expected to collect the rents and pass them on to Healey Properties or AAS Freight Services, but the beneficial owner of these two companies is not yet established.

In one letter dated 15 December 2003, Roger Pitts Tucker – the lawyer working on behalf of “AAS Freight Services Ltd, Healey Properties Ltd, and others” – wrote to Carter Lemon Camerons (CLC), the firm representing Emmanuel, aka Lolly, and wife Eve Bajada, claiming the Bajadas had yet to forward all the rent accumulated from 1999 to the companies.

Three days later – according to the 19 December 2003 letter to Delia that was published by Caruana Galizia – CLC confirm that AAS and Healey had instructed Emmanuel Bajada to deposit the rent for all the properties, some £20,000 every month, into Adrian Delia’s Barclays International account in Jersey. CLC claim the money was never forwarded to the companies.

At this point, both Delia and Cardona had already resigned as directors of Healey Properties a few weeks earlier on 2 December, some five months after London police raided the brothels.

Crucially, at this stage it has to be said that on 9 September 2003, a San Gwann man – Martin Farrugia – whom sources suggest was well-known in Soho, became the licensee of 52, Greek Street, an arrangement that confers upon him similar but less onerous obligations than that of a tenant.

The license agreement signed by Farrugia was witnessed by lawyer Marianne Hofstedt of Carter Lemon Camerons, who are also acting as lawyers for the Bajada couple.

Some time down the road, 23 April 2004, a letter from Pitts-Tucker (lawyers for Healey) now pertain to be writing on behalf of Martin Farrugia, who is described as having rented out the properties to Eve Bajada, Emmanuel’s wife.

“We have been asked to act for Mr Martin Farrugia, who took a rental agreement from [Healey Properties Ltd] for [various properties in Mayfair and Soho]. Mr Farrugia permitted you to manage these properties on his behalf in his absence, as can be evidenced from his own bank statements,” – the Pitts-Tucker letter says.

The letter goes on to state that Ms Bajada “was allowing the premises to be used for the purposes of prostitution” and that she had “not accounted to Mr Farrugia for the entire duration of the lettings” and that £800,000 was therefore owed to Farrugia.

The letter also says that Healey Properties was intent on holding Bajada responsible for loss of value of the property, which they describe as having “become tainted” after being used as brothels.

Surely, there are questions about Martin Farrugia’s role in the affair, whether he could have been more than just a licensee of the properties, whose rental payments were definitely passed on to Eve Bajada.

‘Brown leather diary’

It is clear from the contents of the evidence presented in Harrow Criminal Court, that Eve Bajada was involved in the periodic collection of rent from the properties, with evidence from notebooks belonging to Gadzijeva showing a number of entries like “11/4 Eve took rent for 6. I settled with bosses” and “14/4 £6000 need to give to Eve. With Muru there is £18000 + £6000 = £24000. Eve took”.

It must also be said that neither Eve nor her husband, were charged or involved in the proceedings which found Gadizjeva and her associates, guilty.

Later, in 2005, Emmanuel Bajada would however be charged with running two brothels in Malta and of living of the proceeds from prostitution. His defence counsel in the case was Chris Cardona. Bajada was found guilty in 2010.

Unanswered questions

On the face of it, it could be that the Bajadas were operating independently from the owners of the properties, however Caruana Galizia has also claimed that the two companies that own the London properties belonged to Eucharist Bajada, Emmanuel’s brother.

MaltaToday has not seen any documentary evidence of this, however, if true, the fact that two brothers require so many middlemen in order to pay one another rents, raises questions of the type of operation being used to process the ill-gotten earnings.

An important clue is the fact that the licence document showing Martin Farrugia signing as the licensee of the properties, was witnessed by barrister Marianne Hofstedt, of Carter Lemon Camerons.

But in the 15th December letter, Hofstedt is addressed by Pitts-Tucker as the lawyer for Emmanuel and Eve Bajada. In this letter, Pitts-Tucker is now saying he acts for Martin Farrugia, apart for Healey Properties.

A month later, on 15 January 2004, Carter Lemon Camerons tell Pitts-Tucker they are no longer engaged by Emmanuel Bajada.

Delia’s involvement: questions

There is nothing indicating that Delia was directly involved in the operation or that he was aware of it.

Daphne Caruana Galizia insists the properties were acquired by Eucharist – with whom Delia owns a 1% shareholding in a Malta company. He is the older brother to convicted brothel-keeper Emmanuel Bajada, the man whose wife dealt with the head of the London prostitution ring; and also the father of Eucharist 'Kris' Bajadaformerly the husband of outgoing PN leader Simon Busuttil’s sister.

Delia holds a 1% share in Eucharist snr’s Patience Developments Limited, adding a level of proximity on the part of Delia.

The documents may appear to validate Delia’s claims that the owners of the properties, upon discovering that property was being used for prostitution, sought to evict them, and eventually sold off the property. But in the process, people like Martin Farrugia and Mark Barbara were transferred ownership, partly or wholly. The question is whether Delia was fully aware that his Jersey account was used as a conduit for the 'prostitution rent' to be passed on to Healey Properties, its owner, or other straw-men involved in the operation.

So after the police raid on Greek Street in July 2003, Land Registry titles indicate that the Greek Street property became partly owned by Maybole Development Corporation, a BVI offshore company, but also by Mark Barbara – today in the employ of minister Chris Cardona. And in early December 2003, both Delia and Cardona resigned as directors of the company.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...
yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...