Ian Borg ig­nored pleas from fam­ily not to buy land a day be­fore pur­chase

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - He­lena Grech

The son of An­thony Sci­cluna, the man who sold Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary Ian Borg a par­cel of land un­der what his chil­dren claim are du­bi­ous cir­cum­stances, said that his fa­ther had been suf­fer­ing from men­tal ill­ness for 25 years, a sworn af­fi­davit shows.

His sis­ter, Sharon Sci­cluna, also swears that on the very day that she learned her fa­ther’s land was to be sold to Dr Borg – 12 Jan­uary 2014 – she im­me­di­ately sent a mes­sage to Dr Borg to in­form him that

the land be­long­ing to her fa­ther was not for sale, but he did not re­ply. The prop­erty was sold to Dr Borg the next morn­ing.

Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for the EU pres­i­dency and EU funds Ian Borg, how­ever, hotly dis­putes such a claim, hav­ing said in a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view with The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day: “The de­ci­sion to sell the prop­erty was free and un­hin­dered.”

Dr Borg also said that, in ac­tual fact, An­thony Sci­cluna is con­test­ing claims of men­tal ill­ness through his lawyer.

This news­room re­quested a copy of the sworn af­fi­davits of three of Mr Sci­cluna’s chil­dren: Sharon, Alexan­der and Christo­pher Sci­cluna. In th­ese af­fi­davits, all three said that their fa­ther had al­ways ex­pressed his wish for the land to be passed on to his chil­dren. In his af­fi­davit, Christo­pher Sci­cluna quoted his fa­ther as say­ing: “That [the land] was passed on to me from my fa­ther, it is your in­her­i­tance.”

Con­flict­ing re­ports

In the same in­ter­view be­tween Dr Borg and this news­room, he un­equiv­o­cally stated that dur­ing the sign­ing of the con­tract of sale at no­tary An­ton Borg’s of­fice, there was no med­i­cal doc­tor in the room and he claimed that Mr Sci­cluna Sr is be­ing abused by his chil­dren’s claims of men­tal ill­ness:

“When you went to the no­tary, did Ninu men­tion that he has men­tal prob­lems? Was there a doc­tor in the of­fice?” this news­room had asked. “No. No. No. Not for this con­tract, nor for the other,” Dr Borg replied.

He also con­firmed that in the no­tary’s of­fice at the time were Mr Sci­cluna Sr and Dr Borg’s two mid­dle­men: Mark Far­ru­gia and Frank Sam­mut.

How­ever, in the sworn af­fi­davit signed by Alexan­der Sci­cluna, he said that fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of the sale of land, he had made sev­eral at­tempts to con­tact Dr Borg to try and stop the trans­ac­tion in view of his fa­ther re­peat­edly ex­press­ing his wish to pass on the land to his chil­dren and in view of his long-stand­ing men­tal ill­ness.

When Alexan­der Sci­cluna even­tu­ally got through to Dr Borg, he said to him: “Do you know what you have done with a sick per­son?”

Ac­cord­ing to his af­fi­davit, Dr Borg replied: “Be care­ful what you are say­ing. This is you say­ing it,” and even­tu­ally telling him that there had been a doc­tor present at No­tary An­ton Borg’s of­fice.

Va­lid­ity of sale

In her af­fi­davit, Sharon Sci­cluna says that the land in ques­tion had been handed down to Mr An­thony Sci­cluna from his fa­ther in 2009. In the con­tract, she said, there is a clause which says that the mother of An­thony Sci­cluna, and there­fore Sharon Sci­cluna’s grand­mother, has the right to en­joy the land ex­clu­sively for the rest of her life. Ms Sci­cluna said that in the con­tract of sale be­tween her fa­ther and Dr Borg, her grand­mother’s sig­na­ture was nowhere to be seen – mean­ing that she had not given her con­sent.

“My grand­mother did not fea­ture in the 2014 con­tract, not per­son­ally or through a le­gal procu­ra­tor,” she said.

She also wrote that her cousin – and the mid­dle­man of Dr Borg – Mark Far­ru­gia, was well-aware of her fa­ther’s men­tal con­di­tion. “Nat­u­rally, my cousin knew of what my fa­ther suf­fers from, and he’s known from the start of his ill­ness, for many years.”

Dr Borg paid a to­tal of €11,700 for the prop­erty – €10,000 for the land and an ad­di­tional €1,700 in re­spect of ex­penses and taxes.

Ex­ert­ing pres­sure

In the af­fi­davit of Alexan­der Sci­cluna, he said he had been aware of Dr Borg’s wish to buy the land from his fa­ther as early as the end of Sep­tem­ber. He said that it was the driver of Ian Borg him­self who had floated the idea to him orig­i­nally, and af­ter he had re­fused a num­ber of peo­ple had ap­proached him about sell­ing the land:

“...be­fore the Feast of St Cather­ine (which is held on the last Sun­day of Sep­tem­ber) 2013, I don’t re­mem­ber ex­actly when, I had spo­ken to the driver of Ian Borg about some ac­tiv­i­ties for the feast and he brought up the sub­ject of the field and asked me if I wanted to sell it to Ian Borg.

“I im­me­di­ately told him that we were not in­ter­ested. From that day on­wards, a num­ber of peo­ple from Ian Borg’s cir­cle, in­clud­ing other mem­bers of my fam­ily who are close to Ian Borg, spoke to me or sent mes­sages in or­der to ex­ert pres­sure on us to sell to Dr Borg.”

Mr Sci­cluna ex­plained that while drop­ping off his mother at home, fol­low­ing lunch in Marsaxlokk, they met his brother, Christo­pher, who told them that their fa­ther was in a bad men­tal state and drunk. He also in­formed them that Mr Sci­cluna Sr was up­set with them and that had told his son that the land had been sold to Dr Borg.

“I im­me­di­ately called Dr Borg to stop the sale of land, but some­body else an­swered the phone say­ing that Dr Borg was not there,” said Alexan­der Sci­cluna.

He sub­se­quently found his fa­ther at a Labour Party club. “I went to the door and called him, but my fa­ther said he did not know who I was.”

Af­ter some at­tempts, Mr Sci­cluna said that his fa­ther re­mained in­side, so he left, think­ing that the most his fa­ther could have done was make a prom­ise of sale and that, “with the con­di­tions tied to the land, we could break the deal.”

The fol­low­ing morn­ing, Alexan­der Sci­cluna tried to call mid­dle­man Mark Far­ru­gia, but he did not an­swer. That evening, he phoned Dr Borg, which is when the lat­ter told him to be care­ful about re­fer­ring to his fa­ther as be­ing men­tally ill, and it was just some­thing he was say­ing (Dak int qed tghidu). This is also when Dr Borg told him that there had been a doc­tor present in the no­tary’s of­fice when the con­tract was signed.

Sharon Sci­cluna also spoke of mak­ing con­tact with Dr Borg. She said that on 12 Jan­uary 2014, the same day that Chris Sci­cluna had in­formed his sib­lings that the land had been sold, “I im­me­di­ately sent a mes­sage to Dr Borg to tell him that the land be­long­ing to our fa­ther was not for sale, but he did not re­ply.”

Back­ground

The land in ques­tion is in Ra­bat’s pic­turesque Santa Ka­te­rina val­ley, di­rectly ad­ja­cent to an­other prop­erty Dr Borg also sub­se­quently pur­chased. Dr Borg is fac­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of abuse of power for pri­vate gain af­ter the former Malta En­vi­ron­ment and Plan­ning Au­thor­ity ex­pe­di­tiously granted a de­vel­op­ment per­mit in a ru­ral area for a res­i­den­tial project stretch­ing across both ac­quired prop­er­ties, as re­ported pre­vi­ously by this news­pa­per.

In Jan­uary 2014, Dr Borg pur­chased this prop­erty from 66year-old An­thony Sci­cluna, who suf­fers from a se­ri­ous men­tal dis­or­der and has been de­scribed by his con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist as be­ing vul­ner­a­ble and un­able to take de­ci­sions.

The 655 square me­tre prop­erty, roughly the size of a foot­ball pitch’s penalty area and which Mr Sci­cluna’s fam­ily says has been owned and farmed by them for gen­er­a­tions, was sold for the sum of €10,000, with­out his fam­ily’s knowl­edge. More­over, in­cluded in the bar­gain base­ment price was a 16 square me­tre wa­ter tank in an ad­ja­cent field and a nearby 16 square me­tre wind­mill.

While sev­eral at­tempts at the time to con­vince Mr Sci­cluna to part with the land, which he had in­her­ited from his fa­ther, had proved un­suc­cess­ful as Mr Sci­cluna had con­sis­tently re­fused their ap­proaches, a deal was fi­nally struck on 13 Jan­uary 2014.

Ian Borg

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