DB CEO challenges Simon Busuttil to file criminal complaint on Pembroke transfer

DB hotels group CEO Arthur Gauci says former PN leader should file a report to the police and back up his calls for the land transfer to be investigated 

A photomontage of the db Group 38-storey tower overlooking St George's Bay in St Julians
A photomontage of the db Group 38-storey tower overlooking St George's Bay in St Julians

The CEO of the DB hotel group, Arthur Gauci, said he would welcome any type of national investigation into the transfer of land at St George’s Bay by the Maltese government for the construction of the ‘City Centre’ project. 

“Former PN leader Simon Busuttil on Monday declared in Parliament the transfer of the ITS site had to be investigated. We categorically deny that we are aware of, let alone being party to, any wrongdoing,” Gauci said in a statement. 

The land formerly occupied by the Institute of Tourism Studies was transferred to Silvio Debono’s DB Group on a valuation created by Deloitte, but whose overall price was universally panned by critics and environmental groups. 

Gauci insisted that a Deloitte partner had already testified in court under oath that the valuation was “fair”. 

The €60 million price tag for the land occupied by the outgoing Institute for Tourism Studies, now to be leased by the DB group for 99 years, is split between a €15 million premium payable over seven years, and also €23.4 million for the redemption of ground rent on individual residences included in the project. The rest includes €4 million in taxes, €6 million for the conversion from temporary to perpetual emphyteusis, €500,000 for the car park conversion, €2.5 in hospitality ground rent, and €8.7 million in retail ground rent. 

“We invite Busuttil to pass on to a prospective inquiring magistrate or the police any information he might have,” Gauci said, saying he would fully cooperate with any investigation. 

“From the start, the DB group has welcomed the scrutiny of the transfer by both local and European institutions [and] publicly embraced the review of the transfer by the National Audit Office,” Gauci said. 

The EU’s Commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager recently told an MEP in reply to a PQ that the request for proposals procedure carried out by Projects Malta, the PPP government arm run by Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, had been in conformity with EU rules. 

“A few weeks ago... we invited all politicians and journalists to look into the contract, again pledging our full cooperation. So far, no one has taken up our invitation, including Simon Busuttil. As always we have nothing to hide and nothing to fear,” Gauci said. 

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