The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

PL asks if PN wages paid by businessman Silvio Debono were declared with Electoral Commission

Helena Grech Monday, 6 March 2017, 13:27 Last update: about 4 years ago

Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis and Labout Party CEO Gino Cauchi today posed a number of questions in the light of yesterday’s revelations that businessman Silvio Debono, head of DB group and owner of Seabank Hotel, has been paying the wages of PN executive secretary Rosette Thake and CEO Brian St John.

The revelations were made after Guido de Marco & Associates renounced its brief as advisors to db Group in relation to the St George’s Bay project. The PN had been highly critical of the way db Group acquired the land, which formerly held the Institute of Tourism Studies school, in order to develop a €300 million hotel as well as luxury apartments.

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Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil yesterday said that after announcing that the PN was asking the auditor general to investigate the ITS site contract, he had received a message that db Seabank was asking for the money the company had donated to the party back. The company later said it is paying for the salaries of the two PN officials.

In a press conference held today, Dr Zammit Lewis and Mr Cauchi asked:

When did Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil get to know that Dr de Marco accepted the brief pertaining to the St George’s Bay concession? Did Dr de Marco inform Dr Busuttil of this decision immediately? Why didn’t Dr Busuttil speak up before?

The PL officials took umbrage at the fact that Dr Busuttil, when intervening during a NET television marathon to gather funds to speak out about this controversy, did not shed light on the whole truth.

Dr Zammit Lewis said it was a perfect opportunity for the Opposition Leader to speak out and give the full version of events, but it was DB group that issued a press statement in order for the whole truth to be made known.

Other questions made by the PL were:

Why did Dr Busuttil take a harsh stance against conflicts of interest in the case of Dr de Marco, by demanding that he renounce the provision of his services in relation to the St George’s Bay concession, but not do so in other cases of conflicts of interest?

Dr Zammit Lewis was referring to the application filed by PN MP Toni Bezzina for a development in an Outside Development Zone in Mdina.

They asked whether the PN had declared the wages paid by DB Group with the Electoral Commission and lastly whether any other PN employee is being paid by private individuals or businesses, apart from Ms Thake and Mr St John.

Dr Zammit Lewis stated that he expects Dr Busuttil to answer each question separately. When asked why the PL is not publishing their list of donations, for the sake of transparency, Mr Cauchi said that the Electoral Commission has not requested the information yet, and that the party is able to do so within hours of such a request being made. 

“This story will not end here, we will be debating, discussing, and there will be further developments,” said Dr Zammit Lewis.

Mr Cauchi, when asked by The Malta Independent, confirmed that there is no Labour Party employee being paid by any private individuals or entities.

Both repeatedly said that the Opposition Leader has zero credibility and that this is a “textbook case of political hypocrisy.”

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