Not a single company owned by the political parties is in line with the law, with some companies not having presented their audited accounts for decades, with obvious tax implications.
An analysis by The Shift of financial statements presented by the companies belonging to the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party shows both have accumulated tens of thousands in penalties that have not been settled.
Last week, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said in parliament that the government would be collecting taxes due from businesses, saying they could no longer continue to use the government as an “overdraft facility”. He made no reference to dues by political parties.
Submitting a company’s financial statements on an annual basis is a legal requirement.
The Labour Party
The governing party has six active companies, none of which have up-to-date records.
The main company – MLP Holdings Ltd – has not presented its accounts for more than two decades.
The directors of MLP Holdings Ltd are present in almost all the defaulting companies owned by the Labour Party. They include Labour CEO George Azzopardi from Qormi (appointed by Prime Minister Robert Abela) and Marisa Ciappara who was put on the public payroll at ARMS Ltd as chief officer on finance.
Ciappara also sits on three government boards – Malta Digital Hub Ltd, Malta Life Sciences Centre Ltd and Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation, headed by former Labour MP Gino Cauchi.
Another company where Ciappara was appointed director, Consultancy and Research Ltd, last presented accounts in 2002.
Sunrise Travel also hasn’t presented its financial statement according to law for two decades, while One Productions (the Party’s media arm), Red Touch Phone Ltd (mobile telephony) and Sound Vision Print Ltd (audiovisual productions) last presented their financial statements 12 years ago.
Alison Zerafa Civelli, the sister of the Prime Minister’s wife, has been among those handpicked by Robert Abela to sit on the boards of these companies, together with positions on another four different government boards over the last eight years.
The Nationalist Party
The same situation is being faced by the Nationalist Party, which has been battling crippling debts for a number of years.
Media.Link – the company that runs NET TV – presented its last set of accounts to the Malta Business Registry in 2005, while the PN’s once successful travel agency – Euro Tours – has not presented any accounts since 2010. It is unclear whether the travel company is still operating, but it has not been struck off.
The most recent company set up by the PN, Resolve Ltd, is the most up to date of all the companies belonging to the political parties. It last presented its audited accounts in 2018.
In an unusual outburst in parliament earlier this week, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana revealed some €5 billion in taxes are owed by companies in Malta.
Meanwhile, debt levels have shot up to an unprecedented record of over €8 billion. The government is increasing its spending at an alarming rate, driving up the deficit to record highs, according to the most recent government statistics.
While part of this spending spree is to ease the economic effects of the pandemic, the government continues to spend millions on rampant nepotism, vote-buying and rigged multi-million euro contracts with little or no accountability.