Friends of PM’s contract for Għadira project cancelled

A half-million-euro public project that was to extend Mellieħa’s popular Għadira beach by some 40 metres last month has been stopped after a tender awarded to Bonnici Brothers – former clients and business partners of Prime Minister Robert Abela –was found to have not been the most cost-effective offer.

In a decision taken by the Public Contracts Review Board (PCRB) following an appeal filed by the controversial construction magnate Charles Polidano, known as Iċ-Ċaqnu, the board decided that the contract should not have been awarded to Bonnici Brothers as theirs was not the cheapest bid.

The board also decided to cancel the award and ordered Projects Plus to re-evaluate the tender afresh with a new set of evaluators.

Announced by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia and Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo, himself a Mellieħa district MP, the pilot project was to have seen the popular beach replenished with sand, mostly from the seabed, last month.

However, all was suddenly stopped dead in its tracks as Polidano, who had actually offered the lowest bid, cried foul over the way the tender had been handled and awarded to the Prime Minister’s friends.

While according to the rules, Polidano company Emarine Ltd should have been awarded the job as it had submitted the lowest bid, the tender was awarded to Bonnici Brothers, who supplied a higher offer.

The ‘excuse’ given by Projects Plus to justify the decision was that Emarine Ltd would have taken longer to prepare the material necessary to replenish the beach, even though it would have finished the project within the time limit imposed by the tender.

Rubbishing this ‘justification’, the PCRB cancelled the award of the tender to Bonnici Brothers and ordered its revaluation.

The proximity between Prime Minister Robert Abela and Bonnici Brothers has been hitting the headlines for many months and the close connections between the two are an open secret in the construction industry.

In addition to having acted as their legal advisor for many years, the prime minister and his wife were also involved in business with the managing director of the same group, Gilbert Bonnici.

Together with Simon Buhagiar, known as Simon tal-Gass from Żabbar, Robert and Lydia Abela and Gilbert Bonnici, invested in a property development project in Iklin, which yielded hundreds of thousands of euros in profits that were shared between them.

The business relationship continued until a few weeks before Abela became prime minister.

Bonnici Brothers, considered one of the largest infrastructure construction companies on the islands, are the regular recipients of direct orders from the government worth millions of euros, and the company regularly participates in lucrative public tenders.

For many years, Abela served as the legal advisor of the Planning Authority and of the Malta Developers Association, in the process establishing strong bonds with some major contractors.

Iċ-Ċaqnu, and his business empire are currently in hot water over various issues he has with various authorities, all somehow linked to the government.

After settling a huge, long-overdue €40 million tax bill, which had been neglected for decades, he is also being investigated by the police over alleged bribes related to a Freeport tender. No charges have been filed yet.

Polidano, also considered a rogue business operator, had some massive government tenders that had initially been awarded to him revoked due to his tax problems.

His lawyers are blaming a rival group of companies, also in the construction sector, as the source of his latest problems.

                           
                               
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carlos
11 days ago

It won’t be too long before h’ll be awarded the title as the one given to the previous corrupt jm. It will be another record for mafialand.

D M Briffa
D M Briffa
10 days ago

At last, some good news. The sharks are beginning to attack each other.

Chris Stott
Chris Stott
10 days ago

Polidano is the guy that’s not ever paid any taxes Isn’t he? Of course he’s going to be cheaper *rolls eyes*

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
10 days ago

If Joseph Muscat was corrupt and created an environment of impunity, Robert Abela is the best product of his factory, and the one who learned so fast of how to take good advantage of opportunities. We all remember that he used to sit on the left hand side of JM during cabinet meetings (bhal halliel il hazin). He was and still is an intrinsic part of the PA, and a dirty developer. Then he fitted his friend’s daughter as Chairperson of the BCA, to make sure that nothing happens when the normal citizen lodges a complaint against irregularities of various developers, who might be friends of the friends of the PM. We are all being taken for a ride by this businessman and lawyer who used to defend criminals in courts with whom he makes business. Disgusting!

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