Indian business tycoon who bought 30,000sqm of Dwejra coastline becomes Maltese citizen

The Shift had exposed deal involving Vijay Kumar Berlia, and revealed his links to former finance minister John Dalli

 

Vijay Kumar Berlia, an Indian business tycoon who had bought up 30,000sqm of land on Dwejra’s coastline, is among the government’s list of new Maltese citizens for 2020.

This confirms long-held suspicions already exposed in an in-depth investigation carried out by The Shift that Berlia, who was revealed to be a close associate of disgraced former finance minister John Dalli, was intent on acquiring Maltese citizenship.

Given that the government publishes the names of passport buyers with a year-long delay and that it mixes the names of naturalised citizens along with the names of those who have purchased passports, it is not yet known whether Berlia bought his passport using the government’s much criticised Individual Investor Programme (IIP).

The Shift’s investigation revealed that Berlia, a millionaire based in Dubai with multiple interests in real estate and chemicals, filed a PA application (PA/3961/20) in February which sought to expand and develop an abandoned quarry known as Tal-Qattara in San Lawrenz.

John Dalli with Nishant Berlia during a visit to the Apeejay Education Society, part of the Berlia family conglomerate, in India in 2018.

The abandoned quarry would be extended by an additional 12,000sqm should the application be approved. The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) has objected to the development stating that it is totally unacceptable from an environmental and ecological point of view. Part of the envisaged development falls on a protected Natura 2000 site. The local council of San Lawrenz, bar Labour council member George Camilleri, had also objected to the development.

The application had raised two particular red flags – the fact that the architect representing Berlia’s interests is Alex Bigeni, better known as one of Gozitan tycoon Joseph Portelli’s go-to architects, and the fact that John Dalli’s email address was listed as a reference point. Bigeni is also known to be associated with Gozo minister Clint Camilleri, both professionally and personally. He was employed as Camilleri’s consultant and is related to Camilleri through marriage.

Dalli himself had denied professional association with Berlia, passing himself off as an acquaintance of the Indian businessman while stating that Berlia had independently chosen to assess Malta as a potential location for investment of his own accord.

Disgraced former European Commissioner John Dalli photographed with Vijay Kumar Berlia on the Gozo ferry.

Dalli had failed to answer The Shift’s questions when the article linking him with the development via his email address was published. One of The Shift’s articles, which included photo evidence, showed that Dalli had visited Apeejay Stya University in New Delhi, where Berlia’s business group is based, in 2018. The university forms part of Berlia’s business group and is controlled by his wife, Sushma.

The following year, Berlia registered a company in Malta known as BV Enterprises Limited. In February of this year, at least five members of Berlia’s family had also bought Maltese passports, leading to The Shift’s correct conclusion that Berlia was setting up to eventually purchase Maltese passports.

The Berlia-Bigeni link

Berlia is the owner of The Svrán Group, “an international conglomerate of businesses” headquartered in New Delhi, which describes itself as “a leading industrial and investment house with interests in automotives, chemicals and plastics, distribution, logistics and retail, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, real estate, international trading and has a nascent presence in information technology, merchant banking and financial services and publishing”.

It is not yet known how Bigeni came to form his business relationship with Berlia on the project, nor whether there are any direct links between Berlia and Joseph Portelli or any of his business interests beyond the mutual relations with Bigeni.

In July of last year, The Shift revealed that Bigeni was paid €99,000 to act as project manager on behalf of the government for the construction of the Gozo Sports Complex, a tender which was awarded to Poliexcel Construction Consortium. One of Poliexcel’s shareholding companies, Excel Investments, includes Joseph Portelli and his business associates, meaning that Bigeni was in a position to supervise his biggest client on a massive project. The other half of the consortium is Charles Polidano, known as ‘ic-Caqnu’.

The costs on that project had mushroomed from €9 million to €16 million – the revised costs for the project were announced in a statement through the office of the prime minister last May. Chief spokesperson for the prime minister Matthew Carbone had ignored questions sent by The Shift in which this portal sought to understand how the costs for the project had spiralled.

                           
                               
guest
25 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
M.Galea
M.Galea
20 days ago

Xi hmieg!

Lino
Lino
19 days ago
Reply to  M.Galea

Remember always that he was a finance minister in your time. So as you are suggesting who ever touched with Dalli is corrupt than what you say of your beloved Eddie who trusted Johnny Cash with our money and as you know he left Malta with lots of debt

M.Galea
M.Galea
19 days ago
Reply to  Lino

Jew nidhak jew ma nafx!! Inti tafni lili?? My beloved Eddie?? Lanqas taf x inti tghid!

Joseph Micallef
Joseph Micallef
18 days ago
Reply to  Lino

Yes of course, and PL rummaged as usual in the PN rubbish skip to fill in what was missing in its corrupt expertise.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
20 days ago

Cittadin iehor tar-republika (sic) Maltija!

carlos
19 days ago

TALENT IEHOR. Inziduh mal-lista tal- korrotti.

Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
19 days ago

A plethora of phantom companies registered in Malta…….who vets them upon registration and on-going process?

James
James
19 days ago

Why is it that when there is some land speculation there is always an architect (Perit) involved?
Where is the Kamra Tal-periti (KTP) or are they silent about these scandals preferring to have their snout in the trough?
The President of the KTP and many of his acolyte members of the Council (Mintoffjani type) have been kowtowing to this government since 2013. Daphne had foretold this would happen.

Anita Camilleri
Anita Camilleri
19 days ago

What a shame ! It’s incredible that they arrive to manipulate all , never face justice and we are only entitled to hear news… No say as after all they always Win. Corrupt Malta!

M.Galea
M.Galea
19 days ago

They never face justice because they are all in it together.! And it is a fact! Lawyers, architects, magistarates, judges, all in it together!!

Stephen ABELA
Stephen ABELA
19 days ago
Reply to  M.Galea

Not all but those with real power are for sure

Carmel Ellul
Carmel Ellul
19 days ago

Dan il gvern qieghed ibiegħ Lill Malta bicca bicca lil barranin wara li jbehilhom passaport Malti biex idur mal ligi Tal bejgħ Tal art lil barranin.

M.Galea
M.Galea
19 days ago
Reply to  Carmel Ellul

Tghaggilx!! Jekk joghgbok tghaggilx!.,dawn l ismijiet, nkluz zviluppaturi, semplicament qed jinhbew wara isimhom biex igawdu huma maghhom! U naf x jien nghid! Dik l verita! Zewg gzejjer gabuhom mizbla bil poplu aljenat ghax aljneawh huma ghas skop taghhom jahseb biss fuq l kantun u s settur tal kostruzzjoni jifjorixxi ghalihom!

Jimmy
Jimmy
19 days ago

Inti oqghod attent li thallas sa lanqas centezmu tat-taxxa.
Inti oqghod attent li xhin tapplika mal-Planning Authority timxi ezatt mal-pjanti u ara li ma tisgarrax xi pulzier. (Anke jekk tibni xi 165 appartament bil-pools).
Inti oqghod attent li kull ma taghmel ikollok il-permessi mehtiega. (Anke jekk ikollok xi batching plant).
Inti oqghod attent li ma tapplikax biex tibni fuq ODZ.
Dan kollu ta’ hawn fuq ma japplikax ghan nies li jghixu fin-Nirvana Republic.
Dawk l-obbligi jghoddu biss ghal dawk li jghixu fil-Banana Republik.

M.Galea
M.Galea
19 days ago
Reply to  Jimmy

Insomma ma tantx naqbel mieghek fejn jidhol odz ghax tapplika ghal kullhadd! Ibni fejn trid, li trid u kif trid! Nowadays!

N.Spiteri
N.Spiteri
19 days ago

Fuq hmieg u porkeriji biss saret tinstema Malta.. tal misthija gabna dal Gvern!!!! Hammigtna kemm flaht!!!

M.Galea
M.Galea
19 days ago
Reply to  N.Spiteri

Hammigna fija w ma fihiex! Sehet zewgt igzejjer min kull aspett imma l poplu ferhan ghax ghandu l kantun biex ikun ferhan bih ghax hekk sawrulu l karattru dawn l politici w bi skop!

Winston Smith
Winston Smith
19 days ago

“Nor whether there are any direct links between Berlia and Joseph Portelli” Isn’t Joseph Portelli’s CFO John Dalli’s daughter? I don’t think they discuss the price of milk and bread at their dinner table.

Stephen ABELA
Stephen ABELA
19 days ago

Min meta li kosta stretch ghal bejh? Dan mhux gvern Dan liquidator tradiment wara l-iehor!

M.Galea
M.Galea
19 days ago
Reply to  Stephen ABELA

Jekk mhux sejjer zball dan l indjan xtara din l bicca art minghand zewgt ahwa ghal 40 miljun! U issa dawn z zewgt ahwa qeghdin zviluppaturi ikerhu kull m hemm bil kruha ta blokok ta appartamenti!! Hasil ta flus anyone??

Julian
Julian
19 days ago

The link is very simple, Joseph Portelli’s CFO…

Natasha
Natasha
19 days ago

Jaaaaaqqqqqq xi hmieg ta nies. Hope they all rot in hell. There won’t be their money or power to help them there.

Alfred Debono
Alfred Debono
19 days ago

Well he now owns a good part of Gozo so why not buy the rest

JOHN CASSAR
17 days ago

Korruzzjoni alla grande. Hokkli dari halli mbaghad inhokklok darek

JOHN CASSAR
17 days ago

Sa fejn naf l-art ta madwar il-kosta hija dominju nazzjonali. Allura kif jista jkun li dan l-Indian xtara daqshekk art madwar il-kosta fil-vicinanzi ta’ San Lawrenz ?

Related Stories

Speaker to decide whether ethics committee is to continue investigating Justyne Caruana
The parliamentary committee for standards in public life suspended
Support investigative journalism that speaks truth to power.