Busuttil on PN’s financing: ‘This is the system. Political parties survive on donations’

Simon Busuttil: ‘We don’t have government subsidies, we depend on donations. It’s not a system I invented, but we are honest’

PN leader Simon Busuttil on Net TV
PN leader Simon Busuttil on Net TV

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil has said that Silvio Debono’s hotel company donated money to the PN – “as thousands others have done” – but that he never expected him to demand his money back “for me talking about this dubious deal.”

Busuttil gave an interview on Net TV a day after his party was revealed to have accepted or solicited donations from the db Group, which he has criticised over having clinched a lucrative concession for land at St George’s Bay.

He was referring to his statement on Sunday calling for an Auditor General’s audit of the €60 million sale of the ITS land to the db Group. The business group’s CEO Arthur Gauci later said that his company had been asked to pay the salaries of the PN secretary-general Rosette Thake and CEO Brian St John – at least €77,000 in 2016.

 

“This is the system. Maltese parties live on these donations. Our commercial interests, like Media.Link, are experiencing hardships. We don’t have government subsidies, sacks of money, or stolen property like Labour has… we depend on donations. It’s not a system I invented, but we are honest and declare our donations with the Electoral Commission. Labour has not yet registered itself as a party, breaking its own party financing law,” Busuttil said.

Busuttil’s comments on the ITS deal on Sunday came after MaltaToday revealed that PN deputy leader Mario de Marco had to relinquish a legal brief for Debono’s db Group, which he assisted in negotiations for the St George’s Bay land. Busuttil said he would not tolerate conflicts of interest in his party.

After Gauci revealed that the db Group was asked to pay the PN’s top executives’ salaries, Busuttil said today: “When something like this happens, it becomes very suspicious. If they gave us money to keep our mouths shut, what did they pay Muscat for their land deal?”

Labour has claimed its only donation from the db Group in 2016 was of €3,500.

The db Group, owner of the Seabank hotel, will be developing a €300 million Hard Rock Hotel on the site of the Institute of Tourism Studies.

But Busuttil’s comments on Sunday and the db Group’s reaction instantly provoked reactions from parties like the Democratic Party and Alternattiva Demokratika, who hit out at the PN’s conflict at having accepted donations from big business.

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