Damning reports by the Auditor General could not be ignored by the Nationalist Party any longer, Labour Party deputy leader Chris Cardona said yesterday.

He was reacting to the findings of investigations conducted by the National Audit Office, which criticised two government property deals conducted under former PN Cabinet minister Jason Azzopardi’s watch.

Flanked by Labour MP Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Dr Cardona said the reports tabled in Parliament on Monday highlighted a lack of good governance and transparency.

They delved into the transfer of property in St Julian’s and expropriation of land in Fekruna Bay in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

These latest two cases were not the only ones involving Dr Azzopardi, Dr Cardona said, adding that equally damning reports had been published on the 2009 land transfer of the former Lowenbrau brewery in Qormi and the acquisition of a Valletta property by HSBC Bank. Dr Cardona said the credibility of the PN was at stake.

If Dr Azzopardi did not want to should responsibility himself, then the party leader should take action, he said.

In the report on the property expropriation at Fekruna Bay, the NAO acknowledged the government’s efforts to acquire land to be returned to its original state for the benefit of the public served the intended purpose.

However, a comparison of the valuations of the property exchanged as established by the Internal Audit and Investigations Department and those cited in the contract indicated a difference of €1,127,424.

Dr Azzopardi has said that the report proved that there was public interest in the expropriation.

In the case of the transfer of the property at 83, Spinola Road, St Julian’s, the NAO found that the government had failed to secure value for money in the disposal of the site for €525,000.

It estimated the value of the site and structure at €2,400,000.

Although the NAO did not find any evidence of political pressure in its investigation, it questioned the move to sell the property rather than release it on emphyteusis, on the back of a meeting with Dr Azzopardi.

The former minister has said the report confirmed there had been no wrongdoing on his part.

The report also pointed out that Dr Azzopardi was misled by incorrect information from the Commissioner of Land.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us