Prime Minister Robert Abela on Monday downplayed the size of a deal he carried out with an alleged criminal.

Abela has come under scrutiny over a property deal he facilitated for Christian Borg, an alleged kidnapper who is also being investigated for money-laundering.

In comments to Times of Malta, Abela said the deal involved a “small parcel of land in Zabbar”, but refused to say how much money he made from it.

The property deal involved a legal transfer of the purchasing rights to Borg which tax experts say can be used to conceal possible financial crime. 

Abela, who in the past has acted as Borg's lawyer, declined to explain how he came to be involved in the deal.

The prime minister would not say if he had facilitated similar deals for developers and contractors. He denied having any involvement with Maksar brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, who stand accused of complicity in murder.

One of the brothers was a former client of Abela.

Earlier on Monday, Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi had asked him to clarify whether it was true that Abela had done property deals with the alleged criminals.

Abela turned his guns on Opposition leader Bernard Grech, inviting journalists to investigate how Grech had built a “villa with a pool” whilst declaring income of €6,000 yearly.

The prime minister also accused Times of Malta of “colluding” with the PN’s chief strategist, Christian Peregin.

Times of Malta editor in chief Herman Grech confirmed that he met with Peregin but noted there was nothing unusual about that meeting. 

"I have also met with two ministers of his in the last few days, as well as with a Labour strategist in that same cafe some months ago," he said.

"That is what journalists and editors in the democratic world do - keep channels of communication open," Grech said.

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