Abela made €45,000 on promise-of-sale property deal with Christian Borg

Christian Borg obtained PA permit on land he did not own on the same day Robert Abela contracted deal for purchase of Zabbar plot from Bonnici Bros company

Big fan: Christian Abela toasted Robert Abela’s election as Labour leader in 2020, describing him as his legal consultant
Big fan: Christian Abela toasted Robert Abela’s election as Labour leader in 2020, describing him as his legal consultant

Prime Minister Robert Abela netted €45,000 on a property deal with a car dealership boss at the centre of a police investigation and an abduction case.

Contracts and notarial deeds published by The Times show Abela, as a Labour MP in June 2018, entered a contract to buy a Zabbar field, only to transfer his stake to auto-dealer and alleged kidnapper Christian Borg a few months later.

Borg, 28, is charged long with five others, with a botched kidnapping of a former worker, who after escaping told the police he had been put in a van, beaten and warned he would have his fingers cut off and his sister would be raped if he did not cooperate with his captors. 

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On the day the deal was contracted between Abela and a Bonnici Bros company, Malta Gas Distributors, Christian Borg received Planning Authority permission to build nine apartments and garages on the 210sq.m plot of land – despite having no apparent connection to the property.

Months later, Robert Abela and his wife Lydia sold their stake in the property deal to Borg, making a €45,000 profit.

Abela, a lawyer by profession, was both the Planning Authority’s legal consultant at the time, as well as a lawyer to Borg.

Borg had applied for a development permit in November 2017, one year before having any stake in the property belonging to Malta Gas Distributors, a company co-owned by Bonnici Brothers and gas distributor Simon Buhagiar.

The Abelas entered the picture in June 2018, with a promise of sale on the land partially transferred to them the same day that Borg’s development application was formally approved by the PA.

Abela then transferred the purchasing rights on the deal to Borg’s company, Princess Construction for €315,000 in November 2018.

The property deal is known as assignment of rights (ċessjoni ta’ drittijiet fuq konvenju), which allows the proposed buyer in a promise of sale agreement, to pass those purchasing rights over to a third party.

Borg’s troubles with the law could suggest that the assignment of rights is used as a bogus promise-of-sale agreement, using the bogus ‘buyer’ to get the deal at a price below the market value of the property, who then assigns those rights to a third party for a higher, more realistic price.

When the middleman pockets the difference, the cash can be used to conceal payments meant for something else.