Update 2 | Director general of government property division resigns

Raymond Camilleri resigns as director general of GPD due to personal reasons, as an internal audit investigation into the Gaffarena expropriation deal is underway • PN claims Camilleri being used as a 'sacrificial lamb' 

Raymond Camilleri
Raymond Camilleri

Raymond Camilleri has resigned from his post as director-general of the Government Property Division, as an investigation by the Internal Audit and Investigations Department into the expropriation of half a Valletta property is underway.

A government spokesman confirmed with MaltaToday that Camilleri resigned due to personal reasons.

Separate sources told MaltaToday that Camilleri submitted his resignation to principal permanent secretary Mario Cutajar. Cutajar reportedly asked Camilleri to reconsider his resignation request but also asked him where he would like to be redeployed.

Camilleri was appointed director-general of the GPD in 2013, after having previously spent two years as director of the GPD’s estate management directorate.

The GPD was embroiled in controversy earlier this year after the government had expropriated half a property in Old Mint Street, Valletta, from real estate entrepreneur Mark Gaffarena for €1.65 million in cash and lands of strategic value to Gaffarena.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in June requested an IAID investigation into the controversial expropriation, while the Opposition separately called on the Auditor General to investigate the same deal. Camilleri was interviewed as part of the IAID’s investigation.

Muscat has pledged to withdraw all deals that have already been made should the IAID investigation confirm fraud and corruption.

Earlier this year, a National Audit Office report into the government’s €4.2 million bailout to buy back its 65-year lease on the former Café Premier found “poor governance” with the Prime Minister’s negotiating team failing to involve the GPD from the initial stages of negotiations. 

‘Camilleri a sacrificial lamb’ – PN

Despite Camilleri having cited personal reasons for his resignation, the Nationalist Party claimed that he is being used as the government’s “sacrificial lamb” for the Gaffarena scandal.

In a statement, the PN argued that Michael Falzon had personally discussed the Old Mint expropriation deal with Gaffarena, that he had sent a member of his secretariat [Clint Scerri] to accompany Gaffarena to the Lands Department, and that he had personally signed the two expropriation deals.

They drew parallels with how the government used former lands commissioner Joe Bugeja “as a sacrificial land” in the Café Premier case.

'PN governments had allowed problems within Lands to build up' - PL

The Labour Party responded by claiming that the problems within the Lands Department are a result of how previous Nationalist administrations had allowed it to deteriorate, in spite of several damning reports.

“On the other hand, the Prime Minister placed the lands sector in his ministerial portfolio because he wanted to grant it the highest priority,” the PL said in a statement. “This contrasts with how previous administrations had left it under the watch of people like [former lands minister] Jason Azzopardi.”  

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