No investigation of Lands Authority over block of flats built on public land

The government has so far failed to order an investigation on a serious case of possible abuse of public land and corruption at the Lands Authority, revealed by The Shift last week.

An investigation showed that a tender issued for the sale of public land last January had already been compromised before its publication.

The land in question had already been illegally occupied for years by two businessmen who had turned it into a block of flats in Gozo.

The Lands Authority knew this because a valuation was carried out before the tender’s publication. Yet the Authority chose to legalise the abuse and sell the land to the illegal occupiers instead of taking legal action.

Through its actions, the Authority, entrusted to protect the public interest, abetted the two businessmen to make hundreds of thousands in profit from illegally occupied public land.

Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi remained tight-lipped when asked what action he would be taking to address this blunder, a deal approved by the Board of Governors of the Lands Authority.

The minister also refused to explain whether he had ordered an internal investigation.

The PN’s spokesman for Lands, Stanley Zammit, has also not commented on the scandal.

Robert Vella, CEO of the Lands Authority.

Sources have told The Shift that before the tender was issued last January, Lands Authority’s Chief Audit Officer Charmaine Muscat had reviewed the case file and consented.

According to an internal valuation report drawn up in November 2022 and seen by The Shift, the Internal Audit and Investigations Office declared that “there were no irregularities in the file related to this case”.

The tender concerns a 250-square-metre site in Triq ta’ Wara s-Sur, Victoria, Gozo.

This public land was occupied illegally by Ronnie and William Gatt, the owners of Gatt Tarmac Ltd, known as Ta’ Gianmaria, and turned into a block of apartments and penthouses.

The brothers made a false declaration to the Planning Authority twice, declaring that they owned the land when it was, in fact, public land.

Ronnie and Peggy Gatt.

Instead of acting to protect the public interest, Gozitan CEO Robert Vella issued a tender for the sale of the land on a temporary emphyteusis, which meant that the eventual owners would get a better deal.

Upon the tender’s closure, the only bid submitted was from Peggy and her husband, Ronnie Gatt, one of the two Gatt Tarmac brothers who occupied the site.

                           

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4 Comments
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Marjo
Marjo
1 month ago

Hallelin u tradituri! Min jaf kemm il-envelope ghada minn that il-bank.

Joseph
Joseph
1 month ago

U le. Ma tghsrax ..x inti tghid.. no corruption…give us proof.. those flats are your imagination…we have 40,000plus votes..ja mdejqin..
Do not know if I should, cry, laugh or just vomit out of disgust..we have gone beyond corruption..

S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
1 month ago

Ah, but if an investigation is ordered there is the slight chance that one might find that something stinks.

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
1 month ago

When I read this sort of stuff it reminds me of the MAGA supporters in the US who keep cheering on Trump despite his idiotic and meaningless speeches and despite being found guilty of fraud….not to mention the other many pending cases he has….90 in all!!!

and yet, these MAGA supporters continue to clap this clown!!…..so much like the local Gahans!

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