There is certainly no love lost between the db Group and Simon Busuttil, with the former Opposition leader frequently criticising db for their planned high-rise project in Pembroke.
Now, after Busuttil called for an investigation into the project on Monday, db has challenged him to report any information of alleged wrongdoing to the police or an inquiring magistrate himself.
“We categorically deny that we are aware of, let alone party to, any wrongdoing,” db’s CEO Arthur Gauci said. “In fact, for the first time in Maltese history, in our case the market value of the land was set by an auditing firm of global stature, namely Deloitte, a price that the latter’s partner certified under oath as ‘fair’ in open court.”
“We therefore welcome any type of national investigation into our contract and pledge full cooperation with those who would conduct it. Indeed, we invite Dr. Simon Busuttil to pass on to a prospective inquiring magistrate or to the police any information which he might have.”
On Monday, Busuttil called for an investigation into all deals that Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri had a hand in.
“In particular, I’m referring to the sale of three hospitals,” he said. “God knows how much dirt there is there, and to the transfer of the ITS land. Everyone agrees that land like that shouldn’t have been transferred for a pittance.”
The db Group, which plans to build a luxury residence project and hotel on the site formerly occupied by the Institute of Tourism Studies, insists it has paid the highest price per square metre of public land for a comparable project in the last 20 years.
db Group owner Silvio Debono
It has paid €60 million for a 99-year-lease, split between a €15 million premium payable over seven years and the rest in ground rent redemption and other costs. The European Commission has confirmed the land transfer was carried out in conformity with EU laws, so long as it was sold at a fair market price.
Busuttil and the db Group, owned by Silvio Debono, famously fell out a few years ago, with the db Group revealing that the PN had secretly been using its donations to pay the salaries of its CEO and secretary general.