The controversial project by DB Group at St George’s Bay has had its permit revoked after The Shift News revealed that one of the Planning Authority’s board members that approved the project had a conflict of interest.
Developer Silvio Debono will now need to submit a fresh planning application for the project after The Shift News revealed that Planning Authority Board Member Matthew Pace, who voted in favour of the project, was involved with the branch of one of the real estate agencies that were seeking investors and buyers for the project before any planning permit was issued.
The case was filed by The Sunday Times columnist and lawyer Claire Bonello.
Pace, one of 10 Planning Board members to vote in favour of the DB Group project at St George’s Bay, is a franchise owner of Remax Alliance Group – the agency that was selling the project’s apartments at a time when there was no planning permit and the land still belonged to the public.
Pace was also a director and shareholder in investment services company MFSP Financial which The Times of Malta revealed held an “investment” account for the Prime Minister’s top aide, Keith Schembri. The company was fined €38,750 for breaching a number of anti-money laundering laws. Now, it’s Zenith Holdings.
None of this raised the government’s concern on Pace’s suitability for the Planning Board. Pace was given the authority to assess and determine planning projects according to law when the agency in which he is a franchise owner was involved in selling apartments that had no permit and no land at the time.
The €300 million project, which includes a 37-storey tower and 17-storey hotel, was approved despite an unprecedented 4,500 objections from the public, local councils and NGOs. It will now have to go back to the drawing board, as people invested millions in a project that had no permit.