Matthew Schembri, the developer behind the collapsed timber factory building site in Kordin last Saturday that claimed the life of a 20-year-old man JeanPaul Sofia and left other workers seriously injured, is in business with Kurt Buhagiar – the driver of Lands Authority CEO Robert Vella.
As Lands Authority sources told The Shift that the LA CEO’s right-hand man might be directly implicated in the collapsed building debacle, The Shift discovered that both Buhagiar and Matthew Schembri are shareholders in Allplus Ltd, set up in 2019 to manufacture furniture and act as a construction company.
The collapsed building, built on government property allocated by Indis Malta, was to serve as a timber factory. Indis Malta has, however, so far maintained complete silence over the tragedy on its property and has not even said who had been allocated the public land.
Schembri and a criminal past
The Shift’s investigations have confirmed that both Buhagiar and Schembri, who are now being investigated over last Saturday’s tragedy, have a colourful past.
Recruited as the personal driver of the Lands Authority’s CEO in February 2021, 38-year-old Buhagiar from Naxxar spent more than a year in a Ragusa prison in 2011 after being caught red-handed by the Italian police trafficking people between Libya, Malta and Sicily along with two other Maltese accomplices.
Despite his criminal record, Buhagiar was recruited as a fitter with the Water Services Corporation by disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi before the 2017 elections, and was later moved to the Lands Authority as Robert Vella’s personal driver and most trusted right-hand man.
A few months ago, The Shift reported how Buhagiar was also pegged for a new promotion as an administrative assistant at the Lands Authority.
Apart from driving the Lands Authority CEO around, Buhagiar is also heavily involved in his personal business.
Together with Matthew Schembri, he is a 50% shareholder in Allplus Ltd.
He is also a shareholder in two other companies – SC Real Estate Ltd and 5B Limited – and is a director of the recently-registered Koperattiva Produtturi tal-Bhejjem Limitata.
Buhagiar and Schembri share a VAT number.
Matthew Schembri, whose name appears on the development application for the collapsed timber factory, which had been issued through a simple Development Notification Order by the Planning Authority last June, is currently facing court proceedings over the alleged hiring of foreign hitmen for an attack on his former wife’s father on the Sliema front.
The two alleged Albanian hitmen live together in a Sliema apartment that is owned by Schembri and claimed they worked for him illegally and without payment.
Apart from Allplus Ltd, Schembri also owns Green Technologies Ltd and Whitefrost Company Ltd.
The authorities – including Indis Malta, the Planning Authority and the Building and Construction Agency – have so far kept quiet about the incident and its implications.
The Shift has revealed that Adriana Zammit, a former Planning Authority case officer now employed full-time at Infrastructure Malta, was the architect responsible for the collapsed building, while Serbian contractors were involved in its construction.