Labour MP on PA board denies conflict over family business’s relation to DB business

Labour MP Clayton Bartolo says he had no conflict to declare over family business’s Tunny Net connection • REMAX franchisee not answering questions over conflict

Labour MP Clayton Bartolo
Labour MP Clayton Bartolo

The Labour MP Clayton Bartolo, the government’s representative on the Planning Authority board, is insisting he was under no obligation to declare a commercial relationship between his father and the Tunny Net complex, owned by hotelier Silvio Debono of the DB Group. 

Bartolo was one of the board members who voted in favour of Debono’s 38-storey City Centre high-rise hotel. 

Bartolo’s father and uncle are shareholders in a watersports company that operates under the brand name Oh Yeah, and runs its business from the quay of Silvio Debono’s Tunny Net complex in Mellieha, 200 metres away from Debono’s Seabank Hotel.  

Bartolo gave three reasons for not declaring this to the board before last Thursday’s meeting. 

“I have no financial interest in the company, which has existed since 1985 before I was even born, and the company involved simply rents its premises from Tunny Net and does not receive any payments from it,” the MP, elected in 2017, said. 

Bartolo, an accountant by profession, said he does not even offer his services to the family company to ensure that he does not have any conflict of interest. 

 Another board member, Matthew Pace of the financial services company Zenith – formerly MFSP Financial – has refused to confirm with MaltaToday whether he disclosed his part-ownership in a REMAX franchise operation. The real estate company has been associated with pre-sale offers related to the City Centre project. Pace said all questions should be put to the PA. 

The Development Planning Act states that no member of the Planning Board can be appointed if they have a “financial or other interest in any enterprise or activity which is likely to affect the discharge of his functions as a member of the Planning Board” - provided that they obtain an exemption from the planning minister which is published in the Government Gazette together with the declared interest. 

The same law states that any such PA member, consultant or advisor engaged by the authority with any interest must disclose this to Executive Council or the Planning Board. 

They are also not to influence any such decision, or take part in any consideration of such matter, or attend the meeting affecting their interest. Any such disclosure must be recorded in the meetings of the relative meeting. Persons who make the required disclosure can face removal from office. 

However, any PA board member with a direct or indirect interest in any matter coming before the board must, by not later than the first meeting held after the relevant circumstances come to his knowledge, disclose the nature of his interest. Such disclosure shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.