PN publishes Delia, Grech due diligence report

PN due diligence goes light on tax irregularities by Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech, says that if Yorgen Fenech exchanges with the incumbent leader are true it would 'undermine' anti-corruption fight

The PN administrative council has been asked to authorise the publication of due diligence reports on Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech
The PN administrative council has been asked to authorise the publication of due diligence reports on Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech

Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech were let off with a slap on their hands over income tax irregularities by a due diligence panel that analysed their financial affairs.

Both candidates for the Nationalist Party leadership were reminded of their duty to lead by example but their tax irregularities were largely overlooked in a 28-page due diligence report.

The report was published by the PN this evening after the administrative council approved a motion put forward by Delia to have it released.

Yorgen Fenech messages

On allegations that Delia exchanged WhatsApp messages with Yorgen Fenech after it was known that he owned Dubai company 17 Black, the report said that if true this would constitute “a serious lack of judicious behaviour”.

“To communicate with Mr Fenech, let alone to consider taking up his offer for lunch, after he had been identified as being beneficial owner of 17 Black, if proved to be true, would constitute a serious lack of judicious behaviour on Dr Adrian Delia’s part which would undermine his credibility and that of the party which he leads in its fight against corruption,” the panel concluded.

Delia has denied having any communication of relevance with Fenech and rejected allegations that he received or was offered money by the man who has been charged with Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

The WhatsApp exchanges that form part of a large cache of message from Fenech’s confiscated mobile phone have not yet been deposited as evidence in court.

FIAU investigation

When addressing the claims that Delia is the subject of an FIAU investigation over allegations that he once owned a Jersey bank account in which money from a London prostitution ring was laundered, the panel said that if true, this would render him “unfit for public office”.

“On the other hand, if Dr Delia’s rebuttals are correct and the press reports are incorrect, then Dr Delia would have had his reputation unjustly tarnished,” the panel of experts said.

On Delia’s financial position, the panel of experts said it saw “undated” income tax returns for the years of assessment 2018, 2019 and 2020. The Opposition leader also presented the panel a letter from the tax authorities from May 2018, showing he had no pending tax balances due.

The published report makes no reference to recent claims that Delia failed to submit a return in 2018 and only did so now.

Asked about this by MaltaToday on a NET TV interview on Thursday evening (the interview was recorded earlier before the due diligence report was out), Delia said that his failure to file the 2018 tax return was because it was the year when he was separating from his wife with whom he normally filed a joint declaration.

The panel said that its calculations confirmed Delia's financial filings in parliament that he had outstanding loans of approximately €600,000 and that "meeting current financial commitments is an ongoing task being faced by Dr Delia".

Grech's tax evasion

As far as Grech is concerned, the report only has two pages on him, which barely touch the central issue of tax evasion that was revealed in the press at the start of the month.

In a meek reprimand, the panel noted that Grech had regularised his tax position but added that it “also notes with regret that such regularisation was only effected after a number of years”.

Grech has so far failed to justify why he did not pay his taxes for a number of years, and has claimed that outstanding dues amounting to tens of thousands of euros were settled recently using family savings.

The panel said that Grech had failed to provide the panel with “a complete picture of his tax issues” in the interview he had with the team and the questionnaire that each candidate was asked to fill in. 

In its concluding comments, the due diligence panel said that statements from PN officials that the due diligence exercise mandated in terms of the statute would only become obligatory from future leadership elections was “out of place”.

“If anything, this served to demoralise members of the panel,” it said.

Delia and Grech had to undergo a due diligence process before being confirmed as leadership candidates.

The due diligence process concluded last week and both were given the go-ahead to formally submit their candidature but the actual report was not published until today. Both candidates had said they wanted the due diligence reports published.

Grech submitted his candidature on Monday, while Delia is expected to do so on Friday.

Read the full report below:

Downloadable Files