Perici Calas­cione con­firms set­ting up meet­ing with Delia, says his in­volve­ment stopped there

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

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.”

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