Developer Carmelo Penza, who also owns tarmac and concrete plants that he wants to transfer near residents in Mqabba, owes HSBC bank over €1 million in unpaid loans and interest, court documents show.
Meanwhile, INDIS Malta, the government agency responsible for industrial parks, reached a deal with Penza to turn public land he was given in 1998 and has been using illegally as a tarmac and concrete plant into a new industrial park and leased to third parties.
Penza’s plant will be relocated to Mqabba, raising the ire of hundreds of residents who deem the presence of a highly polluting industrial plant detrimental to their health and quality of life.
Penza built the Labour Party headquarters and has done business with several Labour politicians over the years, making most of his money from supplying tarmac.
But Penza had also taken out loans from HSBC, dating back to 2011. Failing to keep up with repayments, in 2019, the court ordered him, his wife Rita and several of his companies to pay back some €866,000 in unpaid loans and tens of thousands more in interest.
Instead of paying the loans as ordered, Penza filed an appeal against the decision, thus dragging out the process even more.
The unpaid loans saga
Through a loan agreement, Penza, Rita and his S.A.F.K. Company Ltd were given a loan of almost €700,000 in 2004. Former Labour minister and property dealer Charles Mangion, a notary, represented Penza on this deal.
Penza did not pay his dues, which were guaranteed through three penthouses, several garages and his residence, a large villa, all in Marsascala.
The bank filed in court against him in 2011. It took until 2019 for the court to decide that Penza breached the law and ordered him to pay the total amount plus almost a decade of interest.
Still, Penza did not pay up and filed an appeal, with the first hearing likely to occur some four years later.
Penza has now inserted his two daughters as directors of his company, S.A.F.K company limited, which, despite being still registered, has not submitted accounts in several years, violating the law.
Two of his daughters, Sharon Penza – the coordinator of Prime Minister Robert Abela’s private secretariat and a director of government agency Engineering Resources Ltd (also an OPM agency) and her sister, Sandra Farrugia Penza, now sit on the board of directors of the heavily indebted company together with their father.
Carmelo Penza has, in the past, carried out his business with several Labour politicians and their relatives.
Former minister Chris Cardona, responsible for industrial parks, was a shareholder in Sapmac Ltd, and Cardona’s then Chief of Staff was Mario Azzopardi. He also had a construction company with Patrick Dalli, the husband of former Labour minister and EU Commissioner Helena Dalli.
Carmelo Penza is the main shareholder of Penza Construction Ltd, Penza Tarmac Ltd and S.A.F.K Ltd.