Top criminal lawyer Joe Giglio spent six times the average of his parliamentary colleagues to make it to parliament, an analysis of electoral campaign expenditure declarations shows.
Giglio declared he spent over €31,000 on his electoral campaign, while on average PN candidates spent around €5,000.
The declarations also show that a third of the Opposition’s elected MPs have failed to attach receipts with their declarations, necessary to verify whether they really spent what they declared under oath.
Significantly, two of the transgressors are the two PN deputy leaders, Robert Arrigo and David Agius.
According to the electoral law, political candidates could spend up to €20,000 per electoral district they contested. Still, PN candidates were nowhere near this threshold, with most of them, particularly the younger candidates, declaring they spent only a few hundred euros.
Apart from Giglio, who even declared paying €1,200 to obtain the front cover of The Sunday Times of Malta’s lifestyle magazine The Sunday Circle, the biggest PN spenders were Siggiewi deputy Ryan Callus (€10,639) and Mellieha’s new face, Ivan Castillo (€10,480).
Castillo had no qualms about acquiring services from the scandal-hit DB Group, owned by hotelier Silvio Debono.
Castillo spent most of his money on events at Seabank Hotel, also situated in Mellieha, where he organised most of his electoral campaign functions.
The Seabank Group was involved in several major scandals, including a record €274 million direct order to manage a new wing at St Vincent De Paul as well as Debono’s controversial City Centre project on the former ITS grounds at St George’s Bay.
The same group also supplied services to another elected PN MP Graziella Galea who also organised her activities at locations owned or managed by DB Group.
Galea used the services of San Antonio Hotel, owned by the same group, and situated in St Paul’s Bay, the MP’s main constituency.
B’Kara’s new MP Justin Schembri, former PN leader Adrian Delia, Mark Anthony Sammut and Giglio all paid Saviour Balzan funds to commission surveys to test their electoral chances in their district or to buy ‘favourable” coverage through interviews. The same surveys were then reproduced in Balzan’s newspapers and online portals.
Stephen Spiteri, the PN’s darling in Labour’s second district, also declared that he organised one of his activities at Montekristo Estate – owned by Charles Polidano, known as Ic-Caqnu. The venue is notorious for its illegal development, apart from the owner’s tax dues amounting to millions.