Adrian Delia courts high-rise developers, does not deny accepting financial support

Nationalist party leader Adrian Delia does not deny financial support from high-rise developers

Adrian Delia at a PN activity in Siggiewi: the PN leader has not denied accepting financial support from construction companies involved in major projects
Adrian Delia at a PN activity in Siggiewi: the PN leader has not denied accepting financial support from construction companies involved in major projects

Opposition leader Adrian Delia met representatives from both the White Rocks consortium as well as Joe Portelli, of JP Projects – the proponent of the Mercury House high-rise tower in St Julian’s.

Nationalist Party representatives who balked at the prospect of a drastic shift in PN policy said they feared Delia had expressed support for the projects and guaranteed approval through the party’s representation on the Planning Authority board.

When questioned Delia did not deny having met Portelli and accepting financial support for the party from JP Projects and its subsidiaries.

“Dr Delia meets business persons as he meets social partners and people from all walks of life, including environmental lobbies, on a regular basis. He intends to carry on doing so for the rest of his tenure.

“These meetings are the basis for genuine dialogue, discussion and understanding,” a spokesperson told MaltaToday when asked about his meetings with White Rocks representatives and Joe Portelli.

But Delia did not deny having accepted financial support for the PN through JP Projects when asked what was the amount committed.

“However [sic] implying that anybody committed anything to anyone during such meetings is totally unfounded and incorrect,” the PN spokesperson replied when asked point blank about the financial support.

Delia was also asked to confirm various other meetings he held with construction developers, which MaltaToday is informed, is part of a strategy to secure financial support for the indebted party and its media operations.

“The party follows rigorously the party financing laws and it declares collected donations as required by the same law. No individual or business has pledged anything whilst asking for anything in return. Any allegations or insinuations of money for favours are outright incorrect and simply out of place,” the spokesperson said.

When asked which business entities had contributed money to the PN since his election, a spokesperson replied in writing: “NA” – ‘not applicable’.

MaltaToday is informed that several MPs were stopped from expressing formal party statements against high-rise projects.

When asked about his support for high-rise, Delia said he was in favour of sustainable development and condemned “short-sighted haphazard development as practised by this Labour Government. Malta needs a clear vision and a strong element of forward planning towards which the Nationalist Party will strive to contribute to.”

The Electoral Commission has already appointed an investigative board to probe breaches to party financing rules after it was revealed that the Nationalist Party had accepted payments from the db Group via its media company The PN was revealed to have accepted the financing of the salaries of its former secretary-general and media CEO back in 2016 by the hotels giant. The db Group had asked the PN to refund the donations after former PN leader Simon Busuttil, who at the time was leader of the Opposition, had shone a spotlight on the contract between db Group and the Government over the transfer of former Institute of Tourism Studies land at St George’s Bay.

The PN has since filed a Constitutional case against the Electoral Commission, accusing it of acting unconstitutionally, as both investigator and judge, when investigating breaches of party financing laws.

Both the PN and its subsidiary Media.Link have previously been reported to be heaving under a total debt of €25 million.

The repayment programme, in fact, has to cover several outstanding debts with various banks: €3 million payable to Bank of Valletta, €7 million to HSBC, €1 million to APS Bank, the €4 million that was collected through the PN’s ‘cedoli’ loans scheme – which capital was used to repay other loans and reduce interest rates on outstanding loans; but also another €6.5 million in outstanding national insurance contributions, €2 million in pending utility bills to ARMS, and other creditors.

The PN has also placed 10 of its clubs in a trust – Patria Trust – in 2015, under the control of former EU Commissioner Joe Borg, with the specific intent of selling the property within 10 years. The deed of the trust was made at HSBC Bank’s Valletta office around mid-2015 as part of a “securitisation process” and the party raised about €2 million from the initiative. The ring-fencing of some 10 Nationalist Party clubs in a trust was necessary for HSBC Bank to ensure the party would pay back its loan.