Grech accuses Abela of abusing his position to influence sanctioning of Żejtun villa

Bernard Grech accuses Robert Abela of abusing his position as legal counsel to the Planning Authority in 2017 to influence the sanctioning of a Żejtun villa he eventually bought

Bernard Grech told supporters in Mqabba, the Prime Minister was only interested in more power to do as he pleases
Bernard Grech told supporters in Mqabba, the Prime Minister was only interested in more power to do as he pleases

Bernard Grech has accused Robert Abela of using his previous position as lawyer of the Planning Authority to influence the regularisation process of a villa he was buying.

The Nationalist Party leader said the Prime Minister had entered into a promise of sale agreement to lock the price of the villa and then “used his position as lawyer of the PA to fix the serious irregularities for his benefit”.

Grech called the deal corrupt and implied that the price of €600,000 Abela eventually paid for the villa was under declared. He told supporters in Mqabba on Thursday Abela is only interested in having “more power to do as he pleases”.

The issue concerns the villa named Ċinja built in 1985, which is situated in ODZ land in the outskirts of Żejtun. Abela and his wife bought the villa in July 2017 from an elderly couple, days after the PA sanctioned multiple illegalities on the site. The Abelas bought the sprawling property at a bargain price of €600,000.

READ ALSO: Prime Minister’s villa regularised by PA months before purchase

At the time, Abela had just been elected an MP and his family firm had long enjoyed a lucrative contract to offer legal services to the PA.

Abela has insisted he never interfered in the PA sanctioning process.

“Today Robert Abela did not turn up for a debate with Junior College students… but on corrupt deals he does not escape, rather you will find him there on the front line,” Grech said. He added: “While he was taking €28,000 a month from the Planning Authority he went to buy a big property in ODZ land, which had several serious irregularities… he locked the price with the owner and by the time he signed the contract to buy the property arranged to get the villa sanctioned.”

Grech warned voters that Abela was asking for a stronger mandate to gain more power. “He wants more power to continue doing whatever he wants. He is interested in looking after his friends, himself and his family and he then tries to buy your vote with a cheque,” Grech said.

The event in Mqabba’s main square was addressed by the PN’s 5th District candidates.

Candidate Owen Sciberras, who is contesting for the first time, sounded a cautionary note to those in the party who think the PN has a divine right to be in government. “We do not. We have to accept our mistakes from the past and more importantly pledge not to repeat them if elected back to government,” he said, urging people to place their trust in the PN.

Grech pledged a PN government will implement the motorsport racing track project but will also make sure the inconvenience for residents is minimised by sound barriers.

He then listed several proposals the party would implement if in government to support feasts, band clubs, voluntary organisations and fireworks factories.

Grech said government induced costs incurred by these voluntary organisations will be removed and regulations simplified.

Earlier, in a brief stopover in Fgura, the PN leader insisted the trackless tram proposed by the PN is the only option for a mass transit system.

He said the metro proposal the government had presented with much fanfare last year was not feasible. “The Labour Party is only promising it will continue studying the metro and so the only option on the table is the PN one.”