EXCLUSIVE: Joseph Portelli organises dinner for PM to meet Gozitan contractors ahead of fundraiser

Dinner held a week before Portelli was granted a permit for his Sannat ‘monstrosity’

 

The Prime Minister was the guest of honour at a private dinner organised by Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli for Robert Abela to meet other Gozitan contractors and entrepreneurs on the eve of the latest fundraising campaign for the Labour Party in government ahead of the general elections, The Shift can reveal.

The Shift is informed that the dinner, which took place in a private area of Ta’ Frenc Restaurant in Xagħra on Saturday 5 March, was organised by Portelli and coordinated by the Office of the Prime Minister to coincide with a Labour Party activity in Sannat and a day before a fundraising telethon for the general elections.

Soon after addressing Labour Party supporters in Sannat, Abela was driven to Ta’ Frenc where, at 8pm, he was greeted by Portelli and his exclusive group of guests, mostly contractors close to the Labour Party.

Portelli’s guests, apart from the prime minister, included Portelli’s two business partners, Mark Agius, known as Ta’ Dirjanu, and Daniel Refalo. Also present were George Fenech, known as il-Playboy, Anthony Bugeja known as Tax-Xrijk, also in business with Portelli on an illegal concrete batching plant in Kerċem, Mario Gatt, Euchar Vella from tal-Karkanja contractors, Michael Grech of Michael Grech Financial Investments Services, and Monica Borg, owner of Ta’ Cenc Hotel.

The Office of the Prime Minister refused to answer questions sent about the dinner and its scope. The OPM also refused to state whether Abela was handed monetary donations by those present at the dinner.

According to Labour’s chief delegate in Gozo, Guża Cassar, Labour managed to collect a record €215,000 from Gozo during the fundraising marathon.

While it is a known fact that Portelli is one of Labour’s mega donors in Gozo, Labour insiders said that most of these funds were collected from building contractors close to the Gozo Ministry and the government and which have been given repeated direct orders during the past years.

Just a few days after the private dinner, Portelli and his business partners were the recipients of another controversial building permit to turn untouched land in the outskirts of Sannat into a 125 apartment development. The project was split into three different applications to avoid an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA). In two applications, the original refusal of the Planning Authority was overturned for permits to be granted.

While becoming Malta’s foremost developer since Labour was returned to power in 2013, Portelli’s name has become synonymous with illegalities and excessive development stretching into various Outside Development Zones, particularly in Gozo.

Labour has also turned a blind eye to many of Portelli’s transgressions, particularly through an illegal concrete batching plant that he built in broad daylight on public land in Kerċem.

Instead of sending the police to seal off the illegal plant, Prime Minister Abela has allowed illegalities to continue every day, with his government even using the same plant for the supply of concrete to various public projects, among them a €13 million swimming pool project in Victoria, being constructed by Portelli following a tender.

The company that owns the illegal plant, PRAX Ltd, is also being allowed to participate and win other government contracts related to road construction, apart from being given a number of lucrative direct orders.

At the same time, the Lands Authority, which is responsible for the land on which Portelli built his illegal plant, is yet to take legal action against the developer, despite the illegal plant operating since mid-2019.

Prime Minister Abela, who got to know Portelli closely when he used to work for the Planning Authority, never commented on Portelli’s illegal batching plant and his government took no legal action against the developer.

Attempts to reach Portelli by phone proved futile.

Correction: The original article erroneously mentioned Michael Galea instead of Michael Grech.

                           
                               
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Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

Were the Maksar brothers invited as well?

Greed
Greed
1 month ago

And gold cars directors?

Qumumirraqdaghawdxin
Qumumirraqdaghawdxin
1 month ago

Kieku Guza habbtet dawk id djar kollha veru x xaham kollu spiccala u giet skeletru!!! Hallina Guza bmin trid titmejjel tghidilna li dawk l eluf mill gbir mid djar jew mhux hek heh! Ghandhom ragun tas shift

Mariatheresa Micallef
Mariatheresa Micallef
1 month ago

Ghawdxin qumu fuq taghkom u ghamlu li ghandkom taghmlu jekk ma tridux tispiccaw bil-gzira mimlija konkos. Vote Labour out.

M.Galea
M.Galea
1 month ago

Issa iqumu!! Kullhadd jilghhaq u minghalih li qed jiehu xi haga min dal bini ghax hekk kien qalilhom Joseph, dal bini ghalik, ghal ekonomija b sahhitha! U gahan jirrepeti! Imma laqwa li meghdi jiehu loan biex jakwista bicca mbarazz milli qed jibnu!! U jiftahru wkoll!! U le le!

Daniel
Daniel
1 month ago

Michael Grech of Michael Grech Financial Investments Limited is deemed as fit and proper by MFSA, hence, by Edwina Licari (Joseph Cuschieri’s travel companion) and Christopher Buttigieg (who enjoyed 5 promotions under a Labour Government).

MFSA never reprimanded, warned or fined Michael Grech Financial Investments Limited. FIAU never fined or reprimanded Michael Grech Financial Investments Limited.

Is that a pure co-incidence?

He was awarded a medal by the President of Malta on the same day when this token was given to Tony Zarb.

Robert Abela also appointed him as Chairman of the Gozo Regional Development Authority.

Fiona
Fiona
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel

A clear case that some firms are untouchables for FIAU and MFSA. Kenneth Farrugia, FIAU’s Director and his assistant Alfred Zammit need to explain.

carmelo borg
1 month ago

Tiskantax li issa jaghmel ikla lil tal PN. ghara fejn jidhol Portelli ftit li xejn jikritikaw. Donazjoni ferm inqas ghax muhiex fil gvern.

M.Galea
M.Galea
1 month ago

Jekk joghgobkhom tkunux boloh ta!! Portelli qed jiehu l irid mhux ghax qed jaghti xi donazzjonijiet lil xi partit imma ghax mieghu hemm irjus kbar shab mieghu fil business. U dan qed nghidu mhux ghidut imma fatti. Xi hmieg. Kompli capcap gahan ghax dan kollu ghalik!!

Joe Genovese
Joe Genovese
1 month ago

Booby’s version of the Kink’s ir-Raba’ Sular.

Was JP one of the guests also back then?

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