A senior Infrastructure Malta official responsible for overseeing and certifying the €17 million tunnels project, completed last year, is fronting a controversial private development application submitted by Liam Ferriggi, a businessman and one of the shareholders in the consortium involved in the tunnels project.
The Shift found that architect Albert Spiteri – a full-time employee at Infrastructure Malta – is the same architect Ferriggi of Infinite Fusion Technologies Ltd commissioned to transform an ODZ plot in Bahrija into two villas.
Spiteri was the leading Infrastructure Malta architect responsible for the tunnel upgrading project conducted by Bifra JV, a consortium which included Ferriggi as one of its shareholders.
Bifra JV was selected through a €12.5 million tender, eventually costing taxpayers over €17 million through some 11 additional direct orders. It was also completed much later than stipulated in the original contract, and signs of decay are already evident.
While Spiteri was responsible for supervising the works on the tunnels, it is not yet established whether he was the only architect signing off on approvals for additional multi-million-euro direct orders and variations.
Infrastructure Malta, the responsibility of Minister Aaron Farrugia, has refused to answer questions on the matter. It also refused to state whether it is investigating the case.
The latest revelations, pointing towards conflict of interest between Spiteri’s public and private roles, come hot on the heels of a new policy introduced by Infrastructure Malta CEO Ivan Falzon, obliging all employees to declare their potential or actual conflicts of interest.
According to this policy, reported by The Shift, employees were given until the end of August to declare their possible conflicts. The policy states that Infrastructure Malta has the final say on whether its employees can do private work while remaining on the agency’s payroll.
The policy, which is highly unpopular with most of the agency’s employees, internal sources have confirmed, asked them also to declare if they have received any gifts from Infrastructure Malta clients.
It came only after reports by The Shift revealed that the brother of another top official, Noel Vella, was receiving direct orders for various road works through his companies.
Infrastructure Malta dishes out millions in direct orders through a so-called framework contract. In many cases, contractors, such as architects in road building projects, are chosen by senior officials.
Claims of sleaze, kickbacks and familiarity between Infrastructure Malta officials, employees and private contractors have been doing the rounds since the agency’s inception. Most of the large projects during the past years cost much more than their original estimates, with ‘additional works’ approved by officials boosting payments to contractors, in some cases by millions.
The Baħrija villas
Through PA04672/23, Ferriggi, on behalf of Infinite Fusion Properties, is asking the Planning Authority to transform a 558-square-metre tract of ODZ land into two sprawling villas with swimming pools.
Architect Albert Spiteri is leading the application process.
This proposal has already attracted several objections claiming a breach of planning rules.
No recommendation has been issued yet by the Planning Authority.