Exclusive: Documents reveal ‘exorbitant’ fees charged by new justice minister’s law firm

Jonathan Attard, the 38-year-old new justice minister, charged a client of his legal firm a total of 100,000 in three months, even though he had only graduated as a lawyer less than a year earlier. 

These ‘legal’ fees, described by veteran lawyers as “exorbitant and unrealistic” included ‘assistance’ provided by Attard with various government entities while also acting as a ‘consultant’ to then Economy Minister Chris Cardona.

According to court documents, seen by The Shift, and deposited in court as part of an ongoing civil case filed by the owners of the former Costa Del Sol lido in Mellieha, Jonathan Attard, together with his fellow lawyers in his then-new legal firm – former ONE TV reporter Charlon Gouder and Joe Gerada, another Chris Cardona assistant – charged the 82-year-old Anthony Curmi, a total of 300,000 in ‘legal fees’.

300,000 paid to AGG Advocates including the justice minister before date of invoices

The justice minister, Gouder and Gerada all sent similar invoices to Curmi for work they claimed to have done between February and July 2016, charging him a total of 100,000 each.

The court documents show that payment was affected by Curmi, through a cheque on 5 May of that year, long before most of the invoices were issued by the justice minister and his partners.

According to the same invoices, apart from the claimed ‘legal services’, the Justice Minister charged Curmi for his assistance “in obtaining GPD (Lands Authority) authorisations” and “Malta Tourism Authority authorisations”.

Identical invoices with the same ‘services’ were sent to Curmi by Joe Gerada and Charlon Gouder.

Apart from starting to practise as lawyers, the three Labour  colleagues were concurrently also serving as full-time consultants to government ministers: Economy Minister Chris Cardona and Minister Jose’ Herrera, then responsible for Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change

Jonathan Attard invoice 9 May 2016

 

Jonathan Attard invoice 25 May 2016

Veteran lawyers with decades of experience told The Shift that although there was nothing strictly illegal with the invoices drawn up by the three new lawyers, “it sounds a bit odd to charge those types of fees for just legal services.”

“The trio must have charged their client for other services which may not be ethical”, the lawyers said.

Who is Anthony Curmi and what did he need?

Newspaper reports in 2015 shed a light on Curmi’s required ‘services’.

At the time, Curmi was seeking authorisation from the government to transform prime government property in Mellieha, passed on temporarily to him decades earlier by the government for use as a lido, into a mega-five-star hotel on the shores of Ghadira Bay.

Although from an environmental and planning point of view the project was a non-starter, the then Lands Department and the MTA had ‘surprisingly’ given their green light for Curmi to develop the project.

The Lands department, now the Lands Authority, had even gone further and approved Curmi’s plan to take over a massive public car park adjacent to the lido to use as part of the planned 250 room hotel.

The project never materialised as Curmi failed to raise the necessary 50 million to finance his project.

Currently, Curmi is in court litigation over what he is claiming to be fraud by several persons (not the lawyers) who promised to get him the necessary project finance from a Hong Kong Bank. He claims that after paying these intermediaries some 400,000, the promised financing never arrived.

Curmi is also claiming damages for the expenses he incurred, including the exorbitant payment to AGG lawyers for their services.
In December 2021, Jonathan Attard, now justice minister, Gouder, Gerada and Labour President and former ONE reporter Ramona Attard, who had also joined the firm, renounced their brief to assist Curmi in this case.

Right of reply

“Further to your article published on 20 May 2022, Costa Del Sol Limited and Anthony Curmi would like to clarify that:

“(1) the documents you referred to were filed in court to sustain a claim for damages which my clients are pursuing in court, and a copy was given to the lawyers representing the respondents in the case as required by law, in their capacity as lawyers to the parties. My clients are very surprised that these documents ended up on the media, and disapprove of the fact that they are being utilised for purposes which have nothing to do with the lawsuit.

“(2) my clients have never requested or obtained services which may be described or classified as unethical or illegal, as it is alleged in the article.

“(3) my clients have no interest in entering into any political debate, and sincerely hope that no person involved in the court case acted unethically and for a purpose which is beyond his professional engagement in the case, for political purposes. My clients would simply like to pursue their claims in court”.

                           
                               
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Joseph Micallef
Joseph Micallef
1 month ago

This den of thieves, the PL, relegates Ali Baba and his band to less than beginners in their trade.

KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

We know just a little bit what ROBBER Abela did,
now he placed a Lakai at the work place.

Maybe they haven‘t finished the looting at all?
Maybe they are too greedy at the end.

Mariatheresa Micallef
Mariatheresa Micallef
1 month ago

Paying greedy people to obtain what is not ethically and morally correct is just piling greed upon greed.
People who are ready to take such risks are normally greedier than the ones who are ready to offer their services. Sometimes it’s called karma Mr. Curmi.

KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

What a pity for Malta.
It is not only another bad guy as Minister,
i think he is placed there to make injustice looking
as Justice.
Poor Malta

Peppi
Peppi
1 month ago

Wow wow wow!!!!

Paul Bonello
Paul Bonello
1 month ago

Are these really professional fees?

CosaNostra
CosaNostra
1 month ago

wtf – this is worse than the ‘Ndrangheta

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

Consultancy fees : The Red Flag Indication looked for by Money Laundering Investigators.
It becomes all legal if tax is paid on the income.
But , it is still grease money, paid for insider pressure in the right places.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
1 month ago

THE MORE THEY ARE EXPOSED FOR WHAT THEY REALLY ARE,
THE LESS AND LESS THEY ARE BELIEVED AND TRUSTED.

carlo
1 month ago
Reply to  joe tedesco

an yet we keep paying our taxes.

carlo
1 month ago

KULHADD JISRAQ FLUS IL-HADDIEM. Malajr tghallimt, jonathan – int m’intix gahan.

KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

It is really very sad to write something like this. 
Please understand me correctly: 

In Europe we have almost 100 bigger cities than Malta. If the politicians there would also build such a crap, there would be no more united Europe.

Frankly, it seems to me that any street hooker deserves her money more honorably than this so-called minister of justice and the dirty govern-gang!
Louis Amato-Gauci
Louis Amato-Gauci
1 month ago

It seems the young suldati tal-azzar are as immersed in muck as their long-in-the-tooth mentors. And why wouldn’t they be, protected as they are (and will remain) by impunity, omerta and inertia.

Last edited 1 month ago by Louis Amato-Gauci

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