Portelli and clan served with stop notice hours after BCA chair’s resignation

The Gozitan rogue developers’ clan headed by construction magnate Joseph Portelli was served another stop notice last week after dangerous excavation works in Gharb were being carried out without the necessary permits, The Shift can report.

The Building and Construction Agency (BCA) took action hours after the resignation of its former chairperson Maria Schembri Grima, one of Portelli’s main architects who was also appointed to head the construction industry regulator by Prime Minister Robert Abela despite several warnings of a conflict of interest.

The latest incident involving Portelli and his associates that the BCA has kept quiet about, relates to a new apartment block development on Triq Birbuba, Gharb being carried out by Excel Investments Ltd.

The latest illegalities perpetrated by Joseph Portelli and his associates – in Gharb, Gozo

The contractor responsible for the work is PRA Construction Ltd under the surveillance of architect Emmanuel Vella and STO Mark Falzon.

Both companies are co-owned by Joseph Portelli, Mark Agius, known as Ta’ Dirjanu, and Comino beach concessionaire turned developer Daniel Refalo.

Issued just a few hours after Schembri Grima had been forced to resign, the BCA ordered all excavation and demolition work on the site to a stop as these were not being done according to health and safety standards and were posing danger – including to third parties.

The stop notice affixed on site was redacted by the BCA, in order to conceal and protect the developer’s name. It was addressed to Mark Agius, Portelli’s co-investor, and included a relatively small fine of €500 fine, which can be appealed.

The development project is typical of Portelli, Agius and Refalo and comprises the demolition of existing apartments adjacent to Gharb’s urban conservation area and the construction of a new block with underground garages and penthouses.

The Planning Authority approved the development last year despite the reservations from the Environment and Resources Authority and the Superintendent for Cultural Heritage.

The stop notice affixed on site was redacted by the BCA.

The Shift is reliably informed that the irregular works had been ongoing for several days but the BCA only acted after Schembri Grima had resigned.

The latest incident involving Portelli, Agius and Refalo follows another far wider reported incident last week in Birkirkara when dangerous demolition works were being carried on the site of an old telephone exchange that Portelli is turning into a massive block of apartments.

Stones and debris were filmed coming down onto a public road during works, which presented a major public safety hazard.

Then BCA chairperson Maria Schembri Grima was the architect responsible for the works, in breach of the authority’s own rules. She was forced to resign following public uproar and the government only acted after significant public pressure.

While Portelli tried to shirk responsibility by placing the blame on his subcontractor, Charles Polidano, known as Ic-Caqnu, The Shift revealed that the main contractor responsible was Portelli himself, through his PRA Construction Ltd.

Portelli, Agius and Refalo have been dominating the construction industry in recent years and are known for their close ties with the government.

Weeks before the last election, The Shift revealed a private dinner Portelli organised for Prime Minister Robert Abela on the eve of a fundraising push for Labour’s electoral campaign.


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Ġwanni Fenek
Ġwanni Fenek
1 month ago

Biex tara kif Maria Schembri Grima ma kienet xejn għajr pupazza ta’ Portelli!

John Frendo
John Frendo
1 month ago
Reply to  Ġwanni Fenek

They should put her president of the MFA, so he could have his 10 minutes

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