Comino is not for sale, property agent says after incorrect ad goes viral

The island of Comino for sale for €100 million? Property agents Engels and Volker say the advert was mistakenly published by a trainee secretary

Speaking to MaltaToday director Benjamin Tabone Grech insisted that the advert had not been approved neither by the vendors nor by the directors of Engel and Volkers
Speaking to MaltaToday director Benjamin Tabone Grech insisted that the advert had not been approved neither by the vendors nor by the directors of Engel and Volkers

An advert purporting to be selling 17.5 acres of land in Comino for €100 million for the development of bungalows has been disowned by property agents Engel and Volkers on whose website it appeared.

The advert went viral after it was widely shared on the social media.

Advert as featured on Engels and Volkers
Advert as featured on Engels and Volkers

Contacted by MaltaToday, EV blamed the advert on a trainee secretary who was updating the website and had mistakenly included the advert, basing herself on old notes consisting of "made up details drafted  for internal practice".

Speaking to MaltaToday, director Benjamin Tabone Grech insisted that the advert had not been approved neither by the vendors nor by the directors of Engel and Volkers. "All the details in the advert are incorrect, and Comino is not for sale. This is all the result of a human error. We regret the mistake."

Comino is a Natura 2000 where no residential development is allowed by existing policies. For the past decades, the owners of the Comino holiday complex have been seeking to redevelop the hotel site. An application for the extension of the Comino Hotel was presented 15 years ago and suspended by MEPA in 2003 when the architect failed to submit the required documents within the legal timeframe.  The owners are now currently in the process of formulating “a development plan for the area” – according to a management plan for Comino’s Natura 2000 sites.

Historically, the island was leased for 150 years to Comino Development Co. Ltd, a company owned by John Gaul, at the annual rent of £100.

The Borg Olivier government negotiated a new deal to reduce Gaul’s ownership to the area presently occupied by the Comino Hotel, at San Niklaw Bay and the bungalows at Santa Marija Bay.

In the late 1960s, BICAL bank owner Cecil Pace acquired the Comino Hotel, but when the banker was arrested over misappropriation of funds and his bank licence suspended, the hotel was indiscriminately returned to John Gaul.

In 2007, entrepreneurs Joseph Gasan and George Fenech bought a share in Kemmuna Ltd, which runs the Comino Hotel, by acquiring a stake in Ropes Services Ltd in November 2007, a company registered in the Isle of Man. The local plan for Comino accords the island the status of Special Area of Conservation and nature reserve, and only allows developers to “upgrade” the existing tourist complex and hotel if it is “compatible with the sensitivity of the surrounding context”.

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