A cowboy turnkey contractor in Malta and his local councillor mother are facing an €85,000 civil suit over unfinished works with the victims calling on the court to kick start criminal fraud charges against the long-time operator.
Kurt Galea Pace and his mother, PN local councillor for Sliema Vivienne Galea Pace, are facing claims that they took nearly €140,000 to renovate an unconverted property but failed to deliver. A criminal complaint alleging fraud was also filed with the Financial Crimes Investigation Department.
Lovin Malta first covered Galea Pace’s misadventures in August 2019, with scores of clients and workmen approaching Lovin Malta to detail their endless line of debts he’s left in his wake
An entire website detailing his misadventures first emerged in 2013 and had been regularly updated with comments from disgruntled clients up until 2019. He was first in the news in March 2018 after he was ordered to pay the owner of a Rabat villa €109,000 after failing to deliver failed the promised works on time.
The claimant of the latest civil suit, Matthew Dale Love, first purchased the residence in May 2013, contracting Kurt Galea Pace to oversee works on the property since he was living and working abroad. He has submitted an affidavit detailing his side of the story.
The project was meant to be completed by April 2014. It remains entirely unfinished but is furnished with several shoddy works.
Works began by the end of November 2013. Within two months, Galea Pace had received a total of €70,000, the initial sum the claimant had borrowed from the bank.
Galea Pace, whose father is former PN mayor Galea Pace, insisted that the claimant hand over that sum quickly and on time to keep on paying workers on site.
He suggested that the claimant transfer the payments through Western Union, which raised serious flags.
However, Love was very happy with the works at first, writing in an affidavit that he would visit the site once a month, with Galea Pace even sending regular photos of the works.
Soon, Galea Pace began making requests for additional payments of extra works, including installing three-phase meters, garage rollers, steelwork, and a roof beam.
“Much later in hindsight, I realised that the pictures that he had sent me did not show any trace of the ‘ring beam’ and noted there was physically no room for the steelwork that was considered so important,” Love said in the affidavit.
Throughout 2014, Galea Pace worked on emergency works on the building, as a planning permit had not been approved. However, he had already started adding further works and inflating the contract price.
By May 2015, Galea Pace started asking Love to cover the expense of new building materials. Love was hesitant to hand over more money in a project already going far over budget. However, he was told by Galea Pace that the materials were crucial to finish the project.
At this point, Love was directed to start depositing the funds into an account belonging to Vivienne Galea Pace.
A month after transferring more funds, Galea Pace asked Love for a short loan to complete some works, explaining that the loss of his father had left him with a large inheritance tax bill.
“At the time, we had built what we felt was a kind of friendship with Kurt and did trust him,” Love said.
A planning permit for the project was approved in October 2015. However, progress over the following months was practically nil. Love tried to contact Galea Pace throughout 2016, but working and living away from Malta made it challenging to keep a keen eye on the project.
The first formal legal letter concerning the issue was sent to Galea Pace in November 2016.
Issues persisted, and in February 2017, Galea Pace told Love that the costs for the excavation of the pool had jumped up by roughly €13,000.
“I felt I had no power to contest this,” Love said. “I had increasing concerns over the spiralling cost and the lack of actual works carried out. I had always believed in Kurt, but this changed when the numerous dates of completion of certain parts had come and passed.”
On 20th March 2017, a contract of works was signed, with Galea Pace acknowledging that he had abandoned the works and failed to deliver on agreed completion dates. He blamed the delay on several issues, including claims that he was seriously ill, something he has told previous victims.
Soon after the contract was signed, Galea Pace made new requests for money, asking Love for thousand euro deposits, paid directly to Vivienne Galea Pace.
He also issued a new quote for certain works, once again citing the need for more building materials to finish the works. Love continued to fork out more money.
Most works done by Galea Pace were of a poor quality. On one occasion, he even severely damaged a neighbour’s wall, something which he never repaired.
“I started to notice a pattern in Kurt’s behaviour, being that every time, Kurt requested several payments, which were followed by some superficial or minimal works and then the interruption of works and loss of contact from Kurt. On a number of occasions, weeks would go by with nothing happening, and unfortunately, due to my work I was unable to continually monitor this,” Love said.
Payment issues did not only impact Love. In October 2017, Galea Pace even asked Love if the locks of the building could be changed as he had lost the keys. However, it later turned out that a subcontractor had not been paid and had left the project.
Galea Pace, Love said, would never actually finish a project, instead jumping from issue to issue without ever completing anything, asking for more funds throughout.
“As time went by, I really started to feel the lack of progress. In every contact, Kurt always had a story of problems, excuses or change of priorities,” he said.
Things eventually reached a crescendo in 2018, with the claimant pressing on a November 2018 completion date, almost four and a half years later than the promised deadline and five years since he met first met Galea Pace.
“When I entered my property beginning of November 2018, nothing had been done for months,” he said.
The contract with Galea Pace was terminated in December 2018, and proceedings were initiated. That day, Galea Pace and his workers descended upon the site and quickly began continuing works, including repairing the neighbour’s wall. However, the claimant called up Galea Pace and told him that he had enough of their relationship.
“What hurt most is that Kurt knew of my personal circumstances that this project was my whole life savings and that the completion was not just designed for me but for my son who has learning difficulties.”
“I am unable to afford the cost of renting while I am repaying the lending which I borrowed for the project whilst also trying to raise more funds to get the property liveable.”
To date, Love has paid around €26,000 in rent. He is now being forced into a shared apartment.
The total value of the contract reached €165,450, with Love paying €139,993. An architect has valued the full value of the works, minus the remedial works that were done, to around €54,278.
Love is demanding that Galea Pace and his mother cover the €85,000 difference. There is also a separate request for the court to pursue criminal charges related to fraud.
It remains to be seen whether the PN will take any action against Galea Pace or whether the police will pursue a case against the pair.
If you have fallen victim to Kurt Galea Pace or any other cowboy contractors in Malta please send an email to [email protected]
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