Both major parties have refused to declare the amount of donations they received from two companies involved in a scandalous and “illegal” deal costing taxpayers €50,000 per day.
Lovin Malta asked PN and PL to provide a detailed declaration of donations they received since 2013 from DB Group and James Caterers, who were awarded a €274 million contract with State-owned St Vincent De Paul to provide and service 500 new beds.
Nobody else was given the chance to compete for this deal fairly, leaving little doubt that taxpayers did not get the best outcome.
PN, which had a famous fall-out with DB ahead of the 2017 election, but had since changed its leader twice, outright refused to declare the amounts it had received in donations.
“Kindly note that this is confidential information. All donations received by the PN are in conformity with the law, in particular the Financing of the Political Parties Act. Furthermore, the PN declares every relevant donation with the Electoral Commission, as required by law,” a spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party did not even acknowledge Lovin Malta’s questions, let alone provide a reply. They were sent to deputy leader Daniel Micallef two days ago.
DB Group and James Caterers are known to be major party donors.
Despite a strongly-worded report by the NAO which described the €274 million as having broken the law, the police have told Lovin Malta that there is no need for an investigation.
The government has decided to keep the deal intact, saying only it will review the NAO’s report to ensure mistakes are not repeated.
PL has not yet said anything about the deal, while PN has simply called for political responsibility to be shouldered.
In a statement, PN leader Bernard Grech made it clear that he only held the politicians responsible for this contract.
Interestingly, PN MP Mario Demarco was one of the lawyers in court, representing DB Group, in an appeal filed in 2016 about the original tender that eventually turned into a €274 million negotiated deal.
“My involvement as one of the lawyers for DB stopped altogether in February 2017. I was never involved in the management contract which was the subject of a direct order and is the subject of the NAO report. The management contract in question as per the NAO report was entered into in November 2017 and was the subject of a negotiated procedure that started in May 2017. All this is public information,” Demarco told Lovin Malta when questioned.
“As you can see therefore there is no involvement on my part in this management contract which was the subject of a direct order. So the issue which is the subject of the report took place at a time when I was no longer involved as a lawyer for DB,” he added.
Meanwhile, former PN Environment Minister George Pullicino was the architect for this project.
He said he restarted his private practice as an architect in 2013 and began working for James Caterers in 2014. He was requested to design a facility for the elderly home, following a decision by James Caterers and DB Group to submit a bid in response to the original tender for the supply of comprehensive services to St Vincent De Paul, including residential blocks.
“As architect, I was involved in the application process for the extension of the residential facility and in technical meetings related thereof. I had indicated that close to SVPR was land that had been earmarked by government for the building of a Rehabilitation Hospital. This application was in the public domain (PA/06224/06),” he said.
“I was at no time involved in negotiations relating to the tender and subsequent developments,” he added.
Do you think PN and PL should declare their donations?