Perici Calascione confirms setting up meeting with Delia, says his involvement stopped there
Following a story published by The Malta Independent on Sunday last week, former PN leadership candidate and PN executive member Alex Perici Calascione has confirmed that he set up a meeting between the Corinthia Group and Opposition Leader Adrian Delia. This was following a request made by the Chairman of the Corinthia Group, who wished to present details of this project to Delia, Perici Calascione said.
Perici Calascione, however, said he was not involved in meetings the Corinthia Group had with Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee and with the PN’s Parliamentary Group.
Last week this newspaper quoted PN sources as saying that Perici Calascione had been lobbying the PN leader, deputy leaders and MPs in favour of the Corinthia project.
Perici Calascione is married into the Pisani family, owners of the international Corinthia hotels brand, and his wife owns shares in the company. He was not present, on behalf of the Corinthia Group, during the presentation given to the PN.
“Following this meeting [with Delia], and following the first meeting of the Parliamentary Committee charged with the deliberations on the relative proposal, I understand that the PN Parliamentary Group requested that a presentation be made to them by the Corinthia Group,” Perici Calascione said in his letter to this newspaper.
He said that he had no participation or involvement whatsoever in the debate before the Parliamentary Committee or the presentation to the PN Parliamentary Group or any deliberations that the PN Parliamentary Group may have made thereafter.
Further to Perici Calascione’s letter, reproduced below, this newspaper asked him what his views were on the Corinthia project, in view of his family’s links to it, and if he agreed with the stand taken by the PN leader.
Insisting that this was not his family’s project but rather one of IHI plc, which is a public company involving around 20,000 shareholders, Perici Calascione said that, in line with the stand taken during the PN Leadership Campaign, he considers it correct not to express his views on the project, “lest even this should in any way be interpreted as an indirect attempt to influence in any manner.” He also said that he agrees that any political party is fully within its rights to expect that it is given complete relative details and a reasonable time frame within which to discuss in the relative Party structures.
He continued to say that that this right to information on projects of such a nature should be extended to the Local Councils directly affected by them and also to the Press. This way, any decision taken and any opinion formed will happen after full information directly from the relative source has been obtained. It is also only in this way that any similarities and any differences between projects can emerge objectively.
Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said that the Corinthia chain, which is owned by International Hotel Investments (IHI), will be given similar concessions on the price of the land in St George’s Bay as those given to the DB Group for the development of the City Centre project in St George’s Bay. MPs will be asked to waive the condition that any development on the site takes place solely for ‘touristic’ purposes, in order to develop a luxury hotel and mixed-use project.
The full master plan of the Corinthia development in St George’s Bay is not yet known. However, the first phase of the development would, if approved, include not only the redevelopment of the Corinthia St George’s Bay Hotel, but also “two luxury serviced residential blocks, the highest proposed to be of 15 floors on land located between the current Corinthia and the Radisson Hotel” a spokesperson for the group told The Malta Independent on Sunday.
On the basis of the draft contract calculations, Corinthia will pay a compensation of €51.4 million for the waiver of the restriction on mixed-used development, and a €17 million one-time premium.
The draft agreement – seen by this newspaper – stipulates that this premium will be paid in instalments. “(a) The first of such instalments in the amount of €4,000,000 is payable as to €1,000,000 upon execution of the deed and a further €3,000,000 within three years from the date of this deed; (b) and the balance in the sum of €13,000,000 shall, subject to any reductions in accordance with the provisions – of another clause – be payable on a pro rata basis with respect to each portion of net internal saleable area designated for Office and/or Residential use on the Effective Date.” This amounts to the €17 million premium payment.
This whole scenario occurred just before the Christmas period.
Mizzi insisted that the Corinthia Group is not getting a discount on land in St George’s Bay, and said that the hotel group will end up paying the government “in excess of 30 per cent of what had been agreed in 2015”, in response to questions submitted by The Malta Independent on Sunday.
This newsroom had sent questions to the Tourism Ministry highlighting the fact that Deloitte had valued the land for the Corinthia development at €121.7 million, and asked, given that they will be paying €51.4 million as per the contract, why and how they were given such a €70 million discount.
Right of reply
“I refer to the article entitled “Corinthia sale below market value – not in the public interest – PN” subtitled “Perici Calascione lobbying PN MPs in favour of the Corinthia project”, penned by Ms Rebekah Cilia and published on Pages 1 and 3 of The Malta Independent on Sunday of the 30th December 2018.
In the first instance, your attention is drawn to the fact that for some reason, regrettably Ms Cilia who otherwise saw fit to mention me in a very specific context highlighted by an actual subtitle to the article on the front page, failed to contact me or seek to obtain my version of events before rushing to print, preferring instead to rely exclusively on “sources within the PN”.
In exercise of my ‘right of reply’, I write to clarify that these “sources within the PN” alleging that I have “… been lobbying the PN leader, deputy leaders and MPs in favour of the Corinthia project” have given, whether inadvertently or otherwise remains to be seen and will certainly be seen, a warped and incorrect version of events.
My only involvement in this matter was to set up a meeting between Corinthia and Dr Delia, following a request by the Chairman of the Corinthia Group in order for him to present the details of this project to the Leader of the Opposition. I informed Dr Delia beforehand on the subject of the requested meeting and after his acceptance of the request, the meeting was set up. My involvement stopped there.
Following this meeting and following the first meeting of the Parliamentary Committee charged with the deliberations on the relative proposal, I understand that the PN Parliamentary Group requested that a presentation be made to them by the Corinthia Group.
The matter as far as I am personally concerned, ended with the above-mentioned meeting with the Leader of the Nationalist Party and I had no participation or involvement whatsoever in the debate before the said Parliamentary Committee, or the presentation to the PN Parliamentary Group or any deliberations that the PN Parliamentary Group may have made thereafter.
The facts as they actually occurred are therefore entirely and significantly different in content and in effect than those quoted in the relative article as coming from “sources within the PN”.
It is, at this stage, not yet established exactly what such “sources within the PN” intended to achieve by providing misleading information concerning me to your newspaper and what those who have been quick to faithfully reproduce it on social media, surprisingly or otherwise only this part of the entire article, likewise intend.
This, I would expect, is quite likely to emerge in the coming days.
I conclude by assuring your readers as also any such “sources within the PN” that my loyalty to the principles and values on which the Nationalist Party has been founded remain unflinching, even in the face of stark adversity. This has guided my commitment to the Party in the past and continues to do so today. This same loyalty leads me to fully respect whatever the Parliamentary Group decides on this as on any other matter. Yours faithfully, Alex Perici Calascione.”