The Malta Independent 21 January 2018, Sunday

PN declines to provide specifics on large donations presented by Arrigo and Puli

Julian Bonnici Sunday, 17 December 2017, 11:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Nationalist Party has declined to provide further details of the donations the party received following last week’s fund-raising marathon. 

Eyebrows were raised after Deputy Leader Robert Arrigo and Secretary General Clyde Puli presented €141,806 and €56,000 respectively at the marathon.

Large donations from businessmen and industry leaders to both major political parties remains an open secret in Malta and runs the high risk of influencing the decision-making or public tender processes, especially considering the db Group saga that hit the Nationalist Party earlier this year.

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The PN currently finds itself in court under suspicion of breaching the Party Financing Law after Silvio Debono of the db Group claimed he gave donations to the PN that far exceeded the €25,000 limit allowed by the law.

The PN say that the €70,000 quoted by db Group as donations were in fact transactions of a commercial nature between the influential businessman and the PN’s media entity Media.Link. Both failed to divulge details of the commercial transactions, with Joseph Muscat alleging that the PN had issued fraudulent invoices.

Arrigo and Puli were sent questions asking for the total amount raised at every fund-raising event that contributed to the total figure; a list of the donors who gave more than €50, and the total amount each one of these donors gave; whether any companies or business people donated and the respective figure; and the largest amount donated. 

A PN spokesperson told The Malta Independent on Sunday: “Fund-raising is an essential part of the operations of every political party in Malta. I can assure you that the funds raised by the Nationalist Party are being collected according to the Party Financing Law.

“The Nationalist Party is extremely pleased with the €620,319 that was raised last Sunday.”

Arrigo was also quick to insist that the money was raised through fund-raising events held over the previous six months, and questioned journalists’ ‘bad intentions’ by pursuing the matter further.

Media.Link director Pierre Portelli, who personally presented €18,000 at the event, was sent similar questions; however, the details of the donations were not forthcoming.

"All donations received by the PN during the fund-raising marathon are covered by the appropriate receipt as dictated by the Party Financing Law. The donations are handed straight to the financial controller and the treasurer of the party for them to manage the funds as per their remit,” Portelli said.

Also contacted, Puli largely echoed Arrigo’s and Portelli’s comments.

 

New leadership was ‘in a panic’ to raise funds

Sources speaking to this newspaper yesterday revealed that the PN’s new leadership ‘was in a panic’ to raise funds last weekend, given that not a single fund-raiser had been held after the election given the turmoil the party found itself in, reeling as it was from a crushing electoral defeat and the resignation of the party’s leader and top brass.

Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that the party had urgent financial commitments to meet.

The same sources expressed disappointment that a number of Nationalist MPs “had not contributed a single cent” toward the party’s fund-raising efforts.

On the bright side, they did note that in a number of localities donations to the party had surged significantly. In Marsa and Zurrieq, donations were seen to have tripled. In Marsa in particular, PN leader Adrian Delia’s recent visit to the town and his knocking on the door of the police station only to find it closed in the middle of the day had gone down particularly well.

 

Party Financing Law: what needs to be declared

The Party Financing Law, proposed and enacted by the current government, stipulates that no party is allowed to receive donations by the same person/entity exceeding €25,000 in any given financial year. 

The law also obliges political parties to publish, through the Electoral Commission, the names and the total amount donated from individuals whose donations have exceeded €7,000, and donations received from corporate entities.

For those who have donated between €50 and €700, the party is required to keep a list of these individuals but is under no obligation to publish them; it is not obliged to keep a record of those who donate less than €50.

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