Widespread condemnation for Ray Bezzina move to DB Group amid claims it threatens Party’s credibility

Opposition leader Bernard Grech's right-hand man ought to be 'ashamed,' former supporter says

 

Large numbers of PN voters have expressed their outrage at the news that Ray Bezzina – Opposition Leader Bernard Grech’s hand-picked head of secretariat – has been hired by Silvio Debono’s DB Group.

On Sunday, The Times of Malta reported that Bezzina was set to join the controversial company behind the massive City Centre project at St George’s Bay, a project that has faced strong public opposition since its inception.

Bezzina’s decision brings into high relief the public’s distrust of the revolving door between politics and business, and according to its critics has seriously dented the Party’s claim to be offering a cleaner alternative to Labour. Former PN electoral candidate and St Julian’s mayor Albert Buttigieg said that such a move makes citizens question the Party’s credibility.

https://www.facebook.com/albertbuttigieg.9.10/posts/3098773503759442

 

He was joined by a number of others who also expressed condemnation for Bezzina’s decision to join DB Group, people from within the PN’s circles as well as external observers who had battled hard against the authorities’ enabling of a €300 million project in the face of thousands of objections from residents and the general public.

In an attempt to justify his decision to work for Debono, who had filed 19 libel suits against assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on her reporting of the controversial City Centre project, Bezzina claimed that DB Group has “always followed all the laws, rules and regulations in all its projects”. Bezzina has clearly already adopted DB Group’s PR line as his own.

Prior his resignation and move to DB Group, Bezzina was opposition leader Bernard Grech’s right-hand man throughout the electoral campaign held in March.

“I expect Ray ‘DB’ Bezzina to apologise to everyone who ever stuck their neck out to fight against corruption. He should be ashamed. To me, Ray Bezzina – who I’ve never met personally, to be clear – is a person without integrity. He should be ashamed,” author Mark A. Sammut Sassi said in a public post on social media.

Bezzina is not new to controversy, having previously served as former environment minister George Pullicino’s right-hand man until 2013. Pullicino was the same minister who, besides being exposed as part of a network which sought to curry voters’ favour through job placements, devised the 2006 local plan exercise that opened up massive chunks of land for development.

After the PN’s last stint in government and throughout former opposition leader Simon Busuttil’s leadership, Bezzina was sidelined within the Party, eventually resurfacing after Bernard Grech was elected.

Bezzina’s claim about DB Group’s conformity with the law jars greatly with extensive, documented evidence that shows that the ‘bargain price’ paid by DB Group for the acquisition of prime real estate where the Institute of Tourism Studies formerly stood in Pembroke was mired in controversy and lack of due process, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The NAO’s report published in 2020 exposed how the tender for the ITS site through Projects Malta in 2015, an entity that fell under disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi’s remit at the time, was dubious given that the same entity had failed to seek approval from the department of contracts before issuing the tender.

Former head of PN think-tank AZAD David Griscti echoed Sammut Alessi’s concerns on Bezzina’s move, arguing that the move reflects a “perverse, distorted and truly delusional world” if the PN believes that it does not jar with its electoral message against over-development.

“This lies at the very heart of why, despite all the ingredients and circumstances being present for a strong alternative, not only is there no such alternative but increasingly the pseudo-alternative is taking on all the characteristics of the Party it is meant to alternate with,” Griscti wrote.

“The Party doesn’t need a leadership race or a pathetic no-show confirmation… it needs a revolution in strategy, thought processes, approach, attitude, credibility, consistency and basic decency and common sense,” he added.

Besides major concerns around the issuance of the tender itself and the concession of prime land for a fraction of its value, the development and planning process was also mired in controversy. From the start, there was overwhelming public opposition to the project which originally envisaged a massive 37-storey tower and a 17-storey hotel.

Matters came to a head after The Shift’s report showing one of the Planning Authority board members who voted in favour of the project in spite of thousands of objectors, Matthew Pace, was also a franchise owner of Remax Alliance Group, a real estate firm which was selling off apartments in DB Group’s massive project before it was even approved.

Pace, also one of the former directors of Zenith Finance, was among the 11 arrested in March 2021 on fraud and money laundering charges, together with former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, as well as the former managing director of Allied Newspapers, Adrian Hillman.

Figures outside of the PN have also heavily criticised Bezzina’s move, including Moviment Graffitti activist Andre’ Callus and independent politician Arnold Cassola.

Callus pointed towards the NGO’s past campaigning against the DB project, arguing that the news of Bezzina’s transfer to the developers’ group shed some light on why the PN had failed to criticise the developers for proposing a project which clearly went against residents interests.

https://www.facebook.com/100003604360060/posts/2538489832947804/

 

Cassola highlighted Bezzina’s former service to George Pullicino, speaking also about the PN’s links with DB Group and the ITS land transfer itself.

https://www.facebook.com/CassolaArnold/posts/515226133371924

 

“DB who, thanks to Mario Demarco, Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat, were the lucky beneficiaries of one of the greatest land thefts at the expense of the Maltese people. Everybody can draw their own conclusions,” Cassola said.

In 2017, Busuttil had requested the National Audit Office to investigate, which led to the report in 2020. Yet the former opposition leader had faced internal dissent as Demarco, who was the PN’s deputy opposition leader at the time, had defended Debono as his client.

                           
                               
guest
10 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
16 days ago

Do any still remember DB’s reaction to Dr Simon Busuttil’s condemnation of the way in which the Paceville project was accepted – and at what ‘price’?

If yes, then neither should one forget Dr Busuttil’s courageous riposte to the demand for ‘repayment’ of DB’S funding towards the PN.

Tempora mutantur – times change, indeed. BUT principles don’t!

carmelo borg
16 days ago

Ghada kif saret il festa tal Gimgha il Kbira. fakkarna meta GUDA bies lil kristu u İT TARDİEH. Mur capcap POPLU GAHAN HALLİ QABDA İL PUP i gawdu min fuq darek.Ghalek iz zaghzah tilfu il fiducja fil politici. QABDA MEJTİN BİL GUH

Ray Gatt
Ray Gatt
16 days ago

Money talks & Talk is cheap Ray Bezzina.

Paladin
Paladin
16 days ago

Ahseb u ara kemm kien se jzid l-ODZ Bernard Grech kieku rebah l-elezzjoni generali !! Ghalija l-PN se jghamel zball kbir li jibqa mwikki b’kap bhal Bernard Grech, li iktar ma jghaddi zmien, iktar qed johrog fil-berah li ma huwiex bniedem kredibbli u li kien (u ghadu) mdawwar b’nies li ma humiex ta rieda tajba !

M.Galea
M.Galea
14 days ago
Reply to  Paladin

Mija fil mija! Bernard Grech rubbish iehor! U ghalhekk hemm bzonn jitlaq!

Joseph Micallef
Joseph Micallef
16 days ago

What is Bernard Grech’s reaction to this? Sometimes I think that the PN is being mined from the inside maybe there are those whose interest is to keep the PN in opposition. George Pullicino should have long been kicked out of the PN.

Ian
Ian
16 days ago

Zewg partiti li bieghu ruhhom lid- Developers. Tradituri tal – principji taghhom u tal-klassi tal-haddiema. Issa uliedna jridu jitbazru biex ikollhom dar. Irridu jahdmu ghal ghomorhom biex ihalsu ghal appartament fejn jghixu filwaqt li d-Developer, bil – barka tal- politikant, jghix halqu b’geddumu kollu gol- liri. Id-dejn jaghmlek skjav…..

Godfrey Leone Ganado
16 days ago

I hope that he was also, not present with Bernard Grech, when he met with a delegation from the Malta Developers Association.
Perhaps someone can enlighten us on this.

Steve
Steve
15 days ago

I don’t remember all this fuss when Claudio Grech became CEO of polidano !!

makjavel
makjavel
15 days ago

Another opportunist moved out. The Muscat trojans in the party need to be found out and removed. The PN secretary general has job to do. Due diligence is overdue and the tesserati should be checked out. ” Ghidli ma min taghmila u nghidlek x’int”

Related Stories

Get cracking, Clyde: memo 2 to the finance minister
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana would do well to watch
Portelli’s latest ‘flats village’ got planning approval three days before elections
A large industrial complex once used to produce tomato

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo