TM chairman in company with Benetti Partner? UPDATED

Photo Credit: Malta Independent

As revealed by this portal, Mr. James Piscopo, chairperson and CEO of Transport Malta, has launched a company in February 2016 with the name of Undecim Five Investments Limited.  (http://maltawinds.com/2016/09/01/transport-malta-chairperson-ceo-opens-private-exempt-single-member-company/ ) Through his company Mr Piscopo has invested in BBF limited together with  SAP Holdings Limited, Analytic Investments Limited and Marie Claire Chircop.

BBF Limited has as main object clause to own, lease, run and operate the business of elderly residences. The ultimate beneficiary shareholders of SAP Holdings Limited are Sharlon Pace, Joan Pace,  Achille Cecile Pace, Elaine Gauci and Jean Paul Scerri. The ultimate beneficial owners of Analytic Investments Limited are Francesca Manduca, Edward Zammit Tabona through ZAT company Limited, The Directors of this company are Julian Zammit Tabona, Edward Zammit Tabona, Veronica Zammit Tabona and Francesca Manduca. Julian Zammit Tabona is also director of AB Yacht Yard Limited, a company in which Azimut Benetti Spa has an investment.

On 8 August 2016, the Prime Minister announced that the Sa Maison Marina’s 25 year concession will be awarded to the Azimut Benetti Group. James Piscopo signed on behalf of Transport Malta. Paolo Vitelli signed on behalf of Azimut Benetti. Paolo Vitelli is also on the same board with Julian Zammit Tabona, Company  Co – Director with Edward Zammit Tabona – Edward Zammit Tabona is Director of BBF Limited, the company James Piscopo has an interest in.

BBF Limited was formed on 18 August 2016, 10 days after the signing of the aforementioned agreement.  According to a report in Maltatoday, Piscopo has informed the Minister about this apparent conflict of interest.  If the Minister has given his blessing to these types of conflict of interest, then our Authorities have lost all credibility.

The Zammit Tabonas are also linked to various companies, which in one way or another require licensing from Transport Malta – amongst others; Arrigo Group of Hotels, Captain Morgan, Comino Marina, Shuttle Limited AND The Historical Vintage Omnibus Company Limited.

The link between Government officials and major business persons is becoming very worrying. Many are utterly disappointed by the Governance of this administration and disillusioned by the way Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat is allowing all this to happen. Many believed that the situation in Transport Malta would greatly improve under a new government, particularly one that has promised drastic changes.  Once again the Auditor General is non-existent. Hon Dr Michael Falzon seems to have been right on the mark in his recent statements in Parliament about the said Auditor General.

In response to above article, Transport Malta has replied on Maltawinds Facebook page as reproduced below:

Your writer goes to great lengths to try to come with unfounded allegations in the awarding of a 25 year concession for Azimut Benetti Group.

The article is slanderous to say the least. The Government decided to regenerate part of the harbour that had been neglected for years. The concession was awarded after a long, laborious and transparent tendering process. The process followed the stipulated regulations, underwent the appeal process and was eventually approved by the Maltese Parliament. The Chairman was not in any way involved in the adjudicating process and did not form part of the evaluating committee. Inferring otherwise is highly slanderous. Your article is a prime exercise in ruthless mud slinging that continues the series of personal attacks that surely do no good to the reputation of your portal. The author and possibly vested interests of this portal and writer remain unknown. How is the reader supposed to assess its reliability?

In response to above article, the following comment by Mr Edward Zammit Tabona, but signed by Mr Julian Zammit Tabona has been posted on Maltawinds Facebook page as reproduced in full below:

Dear editor,

At the outset, we the Zammit Tabona family would like to clarify that it owns shares in Marina di Valletta Limited through Arrigo Group of Hotels Limited. This holding amounts to a 15% stake in the Sa Maison marina project, with the other shareholding being owned by local and foreign partners.

That cleared, it is also crucial to point out that the concession related to this project was awarded to Marina di Valletta Limited following a competitive public tender in line with public procurement regulations. Following the award, the relative contract was vetted by the office of the Attorney General and ultimately approved by both sides of parliament. It is therefore extremely sad and detrimental to the local economy that these baseless allegations are throwing doubt on the integrity of all the partners in the consortium when the whole process was open and transparent.

As far as Mr. Piscopo is concerned, it is factually incorrect to state or even hint at him holding or owning any interest in Marina di Valletta Limited. Moreover, the companies in which the Zammit Tabona family has an interest in, which require licenses from Transport Malta have been in existence for over 35 years, together will all relative licenses. The Company BBF Limited has no link, connection or any conflict with Transport Malta issues, which of course includes the Sa Maison marina project.

In view of the above, we are hereby requesting you to remove said article and withdraw the allegations contained therein. In default, we will have to seek legal advice and pursue our rights at Law.

Regards,

Julian Zammit Tabona