Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti
More suspicious links continue to emerge between insiders at the Lands Authority and Simon Muscat, the owner of the controversial Manoel Island petrol station, among other businesses, as Muscat was the only one to have placed a public bid to purchase developable property on the Gzira front.
The Shift is informed that Muscat, who up until a few months ago was a client of Prime Minister Robert Abela’s legal firm, was strangely the only bidder for a Lands Authority sale of a dilapidated two-storey residence on the pricey Gzira seafront.
The property, which can be developed into a multi-storey apartment block, was acquired by Muscat for €981,000, just €1,000 over the Lands Authority’s asking price.
Since Muscat was the only bidder, the property was sold to him without any competition.
The property acquired by Muscat is, incidentally, right in front of his controversial petrol station, which is slated to be relocated to an area inside Gzira’s only remaining public garden. The relocation has already been approved by the Lands Authority.
The Gzira Local Council and NGOs are up in arms against the government on the issue.
Sources at the LA told The Shift that although Muscat acquired the property through a public tender, it was very strange that only one offer was placed.
“This property will be worth millions once a full development permit for the usual block of apartments is approved by the Planning Authority. Obviously, having the right information at the right time can make a difference for some potential buyers,” sources told The Shift.
The Shift has already revealed strong links between Muscat and some of the key officials at the Lands Authority.
When James Piscopo, now a consultant of the Zammit Tabona’s Fortina Group, was at the helm of the Authority, Muscat had been given a raft of direct orders through his property maintenance company, Cubed Turnkey Projects Ltd.
In addition to having been contracted for several ‘small jobs’ by direct order, Muscat’s company was also tasked with rehabilitating the Lands Authority’s headquarters, the Auberge de Beviere, for which he was paid hundreds of thousands of euros.
Some of Muscat’s closest ‘friends’ at the LA were Clint Scerri, known as the ‘King of the Lands Authority’ following his direct involvement in the Gaffarena Old Mint Street property scandal, and Matthew Zammit, known as ‘Funk’, who was recruited at the LA by Piscopo and made to resign last year following his involvement in another scandal related to public land given to a restaurant in Senglea.
So far, the Authority has refused freedom of information requests filed by The Shift asking it to provide a list of all the contracts and payments given to Simon Muscat or Cubed Turnkey Projects over the past few years.