Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti
Lawyer Pio Valletta has cashed in by selling his shares in a public concession for the Marsa horse racetrack that he negotiated in 2017 with disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat.
The project, promoted by Muscat as a €28 million private investment in the racecourse, is currently at a complete standstill with no major investment having been made despite the concession’s obligation to complete the project within four years.
The concession, which was mired in controversy since it included public land that was not part of the original call for offers – and which was granted with the inclusion of speculative development opportunities such as restaurants and office space – was rubberstamped by Parliament in 2019 with the approval of both sides of the House despite its dubious nature.
Sources close to the Marsa racetrack told The Shift that the only development that has taken place so far was a transfer of shares between the original shareholders of the business venture, including Pio Valletta, who had negotiated the deal with Muscat.
According to a notification registered at the Malta Business Registry, Valletta has now exited the project altogether by transferring his original shareholding to Consolidated Resources (Malta) Ltd and road contractors F. Schembri and Sons, better known as id-Dobbu.
It is unclear how much Valletta got from the deal, although sources said he has received a substantial sum even though he didn’t spend a single cent on the original company.
According to sources speaking to The Shift, Valletta received his shareholding as part payment for spearheading negotiations with Muscat on behalf of the original consortium.
Sources also said that the other shareholders were adamant about “getting rid of” any association with Valletta.
At the same time, the shareholders, led by Hugh Morshead of the notorious cash-for-passports company Henley & Partners, have reorganised their shareholding in the company, which is supposed to be carrying out a multi-million-euro investment in the racetrack.
Marsa Racetrack Ltd, set up in 2017 to take over the public concession, is now controlled by Consolidated Resources Malta Ltd, which is owned by the Henley & Partners boss through a company registered in Jersey, an unofficial tax haven.
The other minority shareholders are F. Schembri & Sons, which owns a 39 per cent stake, Irish company True to Type Ltd with a 10 per cent shareholding and UK citizen Kusam Sharma with 0.2 per cent.
Three new companies were registered last August including the same shareholders. They were Malta Equidrome Development Ltd, Malta Equidrome Leasing Ltd and Malta Equidrome Ltd.
Id-Dobbu’s Johan Farrugia serves as company secretary for all the companies. He is also a director of many family-related companies including Cieffe Projects Ltd, Home Finder Ltd, Schembri Finance Plc and Ferretti Catering Ltd.