Kidnap suspect Christian Borg’s company officially secures Transport Malta tender

Christian Borg and five others are facing criminal charges in court over an alleged kidnapping in Rabat and yet Borg's company has formally secured a car lease tender awarded by Transport Malta

Christian Borg (Photo: Instagram)
Christian Borg (Photo: Instagram)

Princess Operations, owned by alleged kidnapper Christian Borg, was officially awarded a 41-vehicle tender by Transport Malta on Tuesday.

Christian Borg along with five others; Tyson Grech, Luke John Milton, Thorne Mangion, Burton Azzopardi and Jeremy Borg were arrested in January and charged with the abduction and assault of the man, threatening to have his fingers cut off and his sister raped.

All six are currently out on bail and the case is ongoing.

Borg owns several companies including No Deposit Cars Malta Ltd, Zing Cabs Ltd, Zing Rental Ltd, Princess Holdings Ltd, Princess Operations Ltd and Princess Construction Ltd. In the past he was behind the car hire franchises Green Motion and Gold Car Malta and through Princess Holdings he is now operating the Sicily By Car franchise.

The TM tender CT2199/2020 for lease of 38 low emission motor vehicles, one crew/cargo van and two self-drive vans had been issued on 31 July 2020 through a public call.

The deadline for submission of offers was till 1 September 2020 at 9:30am. On 18 June 2021, the Transport Malta Authority declared the bid by Princess Operations Limited as the winning one, as its offer was the cheapest one.

On 28 June 2021 Davico Ltd, the runner up bidder, filed an appeal against Transport Malta. It had objected against the award of the tender to Princess Operations Limited, raising doubts whether at the price offered, the bid could really take into account all the real costs of full insurance cover. It also claimed that Princess Operations Ltd did not possess the required number of vehicles as requested in the tender.

On 12 August 2021 the Contracting Authority rejected the appeal and confirmed the decision taken by the Evaluation Committee to award the bid to Princess Operations Ltd.

On 26 January 2022, the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal made by Davico Ltd against Princess Operations Limited, Transport Malta and the Department of Contracts. The Court confirmed the bid by Princess Operations Ltd had been the cheapest.

However, since January the tender on the government tendering website still appeared as 'under evaluation' until Tuesday 11 April at 12:37pm when the status changed to 'awarded'.

Princess Operations Ltd had been registered by Christian Borg on 22 May 2018. Amidst the turmoil surrounding Borg and his associates in relation to the abduction in Rabat, Borg resigned from director of the company, ceding it to former Labour Party photographer Joseph Camenzuli.

Camenzuli shares a passion for exotic animals with Borg but the closeness of the two was evident in court, when Camenzuli offered to act as a third-party guarantee for Borg in case of bail, saying he knew him for five years and could vouch for him.

Christian Borg (right) with his business partner and former PL photographer Joseph Camenzuli (Photo: Instagram)
Christian Borg (right) with his business partner and former PL photographer Joseph Camenzuli (Photo: Instagram)

Additionally, Borg’s links to the Labour Party have gained more prominence: before becoming prime minister, Robert Abela served as one of Borg’s legal advisors, even appearing on a property assignment of rights in a deal that has been criticised by the Opposition. Abela denied any wrong doing and said he had declared his income from the deal.

The Malta Business Registry received the paper work of the transfer of directorship on 31 January 2022, with the change being registered on 21 February. The effective date was however listed as 27 December 2021.

Christian Borg remains the Ultimate Beneficial Owner of Princess Operations
Christian Borg remains the Ultimate Beneficial Owner of Princess Operations

Christian Borg remains secretary of the company and the sole shareholder through another one of his companies, Princess Holdings Limited. Data obtained through the Malta Business Registry also confirms that Borg is the Ultimate Beneficial Owner of Princess Operations.

On 17 February 2022, Transport Malta issued a call for a small quotation (TM_CfQ_009/2022) for 12 Category A vehicles, two cargo/crew vans and one commercial high van. The submission deadline was for 21 February 2022 at 10:00am.

Former PN MP Jason Azzopardi had uploaded a screenshot on 21 February, which shows that Transport Malta extended the deadline to 11:45pm. Azzopardi had alleged that the Transport Malta vehicles related to the initial tender were returned to Princess Operations.

Azzopardi had claimed that a racket of high-level officials at LESA and Transport Malta helped Christian Borg evade traffic fines incurred by people who leased cars from him.  

He had also said he had provided the FCID a recording of Christian Borg briefly mentioning his friendship with Prime Minister Robert Abela.

At this time, the initial 41-vehicle tender was still at an evaluation stage, however sources who spoke to MaltaToday had said that 15 vehicles were already being utilised by Transport Malta.

MaltaToday had sent questions to TM to confirm the veracity of these claims but it had not confirmed whether the cars had been returned.

“DOC Tender CT2199/2020 was evaluated as per Public Procurement regulations and procedures. The tender was challenged in front of the Public Contracts Review Tribunal, as well as at the Appeals Court, and both cases were judges in favour of the Authority for Transport. The Authority will follow the established procedures,” TM said.

Criminal allegations raise doubts on validity of tenders awarded

As part of the tendering process, any bidding company had to declare that no person of the administrative body was ever subject to a criminal conviction. Borg was, at the time of the bid, director of the company with Milton registered as company secretary.

Yet in June 2021, Milton was charged with fraudulently obtaining $700,000 from a car dealer and storing them in a crypto wallet. Milton proceeded to resign his role as company secretary on 6 July 2021, although the Malta Business Registry document backdates the effective resignation to 16 June 2021.

Borg, on the other hand, had minor convictions. In 2015 he was found guilty of breaking car hire laws, when changing the car registration plates from one car to the other and using unauthorised number plates. In 2021, he was found guilty of perjury, when offering false testimony in court.

It remains to be seen whether in light of Milton’s and Borg’s criminal records, Princess Operations’ bid should have been declared invalid.

Princess Operations had also won a tender, SPD2/2021/042, to lease 24 cars to the Local Enforcement System Agency (LESA). The tender had been issued on 22 September 2021 and awarded on 18 January 2022, a week before Borg was arraigned on the Rabat abduction incident.

MaltaToday has sent questions to Transport Malta questioning the timing of the awarded tender and whether the small quotations call process had been completed. Questions have so far remaining unanswered.

Borg's extreme wealth

Borg also owns two car-hire showrooms, No Deposit Cars Malta in Qormi, and Easy Finance Motor House in Burmarrad. The internet offers testimony to many negative experiences of customers of No Deposit Cars Malta, Easy Finance Motor House Burmarrad and Sicily By Car Malta.

A considerable number customers of No Deposit Cars and Easy Finance Motor House approached MaltaToday over the past, saying they had had their bank accounts frozen by garnishee orders after stopping repayments for what they claim are damaged cars.

At 28, Borg is extremely wealthy, owning several luxury cars and a number of exotic animals, including lions, a puma, a panther and a crocodile, apart from running a business which in five years amassed €22 million in accumulated losses and backed entirely by shareholder loans.

Jason Azzopardi says contract awarded soon after he failed to make it Parliament

On Facebook, Jason Azzopardi said the story confirmed what he had alleged in Parliament four days prior to Parliament’s dissolution.

“They waited until yesterday at 12.37pm to ensure I wasn’t elected before they published the contract award notice of an illegal contract, awarded to Robert Abela’s business partner. The notice could have easily been published in the previous six months,” Azzopardi said.

"They wanted the wait until the election was over and to put their mind at rest that I wasn't elected."