Police commissioner Angelo Gafa’ and his wife, police inspector and head of services at the Victim Support Agency Sylvana Gafa’, purchased a detached, three-bedroom villa in Marsaxlokk for €885,000, The Shift can reveal.
The purchase was largely financed through a €612,000 loan granted by Bank of Valletta. The promise-of-sale agreement was signed in 2021.
According to the loan’s repayment structure, the Gafas are bound to pay it back in 12 monthly instalments of €2,384 and 252 monthly instalments of €3,054, a loan spread over 22 years.
Factoring in the interest rate attached to the loan, the repayment of the loan will amount to a total of €798,216, which is a significant amount of debt when considering that the commissioner will reach retirement age by the time the loan term expires.
In other words, the Gafas’ ability to repay the loan would be stretched considerably should the commissioner’s appointment as the head of the police force not be renewed.
His wife also works for the police – besides being a police inspector, Sylvana Gafa’ is the head of the Victim Support Unit within the Police Force. The Victim Support Unit was set up as part of the police’s force’s ‘transformation‘ process, which began under Gafa’s command.
When contacted for comment about the information obtained by The Shift, the police commissioner said the process he and his wife went through to obtain the bank loan “is the same one others would go through”.
“Naturally, the bank was satisfied with our income, all declared, and authorised the loan facility,” Gafa’ added.
When pressed for information about their sources of income, the police commissioner provided documentation that shows that he is paid around €3,900 every four weeks and that his wife makes an average of €2,985 every four weeks. This income is supplemented by an additional €600 from the rental of a property in Għaxaq.
The original loan agreement foresaw an additional €130,000 to be allotted for the refurbishment of the Marsaxlokk villa. Gafa’ later clarified that this additional sum was not disbursed as the commissioner decided to put up an apartment in Għaxaq for sale for €270,000 to finance the refurbishment.
When asked whether he or his wife ever received any lump sums or donations from any third parties, the police commissioner denied this was the case. He also said that there are no third parties acting as guarantors for the loan and that no cession of rights was involved in the transaction.
The Shift obtained two separate estimates for the value of the property in question in an attempt to understand what it would cost to purchase it at market value.
Two different sources with expertise in property evaluation provided The Shift with two different estimates – one source said €1 – €1.2 million, while the other source’s estimate was €1.5 – €2 million.
An advert on social media, posted in October 2020, had put the property up for sale at €1.06 million.
When asked to explain the difference between the valuations outlined above and the purchase price which the Gafas paid, the commissioner said “the declared sum is what we paid. The same property was marketed much less through various property agents than what you are quoting. However, no agents were involved in this acquisition,” Gafa’ said in his response.
Two years of Gafa’
Gafa’ was appointed police commissioner on 8 June 2020, following the removal of his predecessor, Lawrence Cutajar. Cutajar was removed from his post shortly after Prime Minister Robert Abela replaced disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat.
Prior to his appointment to the role of police commissioner, Gafa’ served as CEO of the police force from January 2017 to June 2020, a role that previously did not exist. His contract as CEO was never made public.
While Gafa’ had announced a five-year transformation plan for the corps, the results on the ground, as well as the general morale of the police force, reflect a dismal state of affairs.
In January, the Malta Police Union (MPU) told The Shift that, besides a high rate of officers leaving the corps, there is a lack of consultation between them and the police administration, with the five-year plan itself being outlined without any consultation with officers.
Civil society NGO Repubblika has also been highly critical of Gafa’s tenure as commissioner over the last two years, with the organisation calling for his resignation last June after months of calling for more police prosecution on high-profile corruption cases.