Justice minister won’t explain €100,000 invoice discrepancy for client who wanted hotel on beach

Lido owner sought legal services from justice minister's firm to build hotel right on the beach in Mellieha, plus some adjacent public land to expand

 

Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti hawn.

Robert Abela’s new justice minister is finding it very hard to explain why, in 2016, while practising as a lawyer, he issued five separate invoices for 20,000 each to a businessman, several months after he had already received a payment of 100,000 from the same individual for unspecified services.

A few days ago, The Shift revealed court documents showing that three lawyers – all closely connected to the Labour government – had issued invoices to Anthony Curmi – the owner of the Costa Del Sol lido in Mellieha – for some 300,000 in ‘legal services’ several months after they were paid by the then 82-year-old.

Through their small law firm – AGG Advocates – involving the current Justice Minister, Jonathan Attard, former One TV reporter Charlon Gouder and Chris Cardona’s former consultant Joe Gerada – the Costa del Sol owners were charged for ‘legal services’ and for ‘assistance’ with various government entities including the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) and the Government Property Division (GPD).

Charlon Gouder (left) with Justice Minister Jonathan Attard

While giving these ‘services’, the three lawyers were concurrently on the government payroll as consultants to various ministers.

The 38-year-old justice minister, a latecomer to the profession, is refusing to explain why he issued his invoices months after receiving payment.

He has so far also failed to explain what services he and his colleagues gave Curmi in assisting him with the Government’s Property Division and the MTA, among others.

The client himself, Anthony Curmi, is keeping quiet about the exorbitant fees he had to pay AGG Lawyers in relation to his failed project.

Curmi had wanted to convert his prime site lido – a government property – into a 5-star fully-fledged hotel right on Mellieha’s beach. To do this, Curmi first needed the government’s consent, through the Government’s Property Division to turn his leased lido into a hotel, and also to acquire other adjacent public land needed for the project including a large public car park.

Curmi also required the MTA’s green light for the Planning Authority to start considering the project. 

Despite the controversial proposal being a non-starter from an environmental point of view, both government departments found no difficulty granting their go-ahead for Curmi’s plans to proceed. 

Asked to specify the assistance that AGG lawyers provided to its client with the government departments involved, Curmi’s lawyer, Carlos Bugeja, declined to provide answers.

He also refused to explain why his client had paid such a large sum prior to receiving the necessary invoices.

“I am not at liberty to discuss the case with third parties,” Bugeja told The Shift. “My clients reiterate that they simply would like to pursue their lawsuit in court and have no interest to enter into a political debate,” was his only statement unrelated to The Shift’s questions.

Curmi had severed his relations with AGG lawyers and is now being represented in court by Bugeja.

In a separate case, Curmi is seeking legal action against several people, including foreign and local consultants, who he claims have defrauded him of hundreds of thousands of euros in assisting him to arrange some 50 million in financing for his dream project.

Curmi is claiming that his promised financing never arrived despite paying these consultants hundreds of thousands of euros in fees. 

He is also trying to recover other fees he claims he was forced to pay in relation to his failed project, including those to the justice minister and his partners.

The three lawyers, Jonathan Attard, Charlon Gouder and Joe Gerada, the latter the same individual who allegedly accompanied former Economy Minister Cardona to a German brothel, sent Curmi identical invoices claiming the same services and charging him 100,000 each.

                           
                               
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Francis Said
Francis Said
15 days ago

Malta’s morals and ethical standards have over the years dropped to such low levels that greed, money and who you know (persons in high places) that should shame all people of goodwill.
This is simply the mentality of who you know not what you know. One must also add the impunity that people in power are happy with the situation.
Is this the attitude that our children, grandchildren and future generations will inherit. I sincerely hope not.

carlos
15 days ago

There all there to screw people a la muvument KORROTT.

Simon Oosterman
Simon Oosterman
15 days ago

Par for the course in today’s Malta.

Peter Dingli
15 days ago

Malta is an ugly place. It has no sense of aesthetics. As a culture there is no value placed on what is beautiful. Many rely on history to give meaning to their worth yet they decry the colonial past that gave us that very history. Since independence, Malta has proved that it cannot govern responsibly, build social cohesion, and do an end to tribalism. As long as this infantile attitude persists I’m afraid that nothing will change

Charles Carabott
Charles Carabott
15 days ago

And the Parish Priest distributes scores and scores of food hampers to the have not ..,

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