Throughout the PN leadership campaign, Adrian Delia’s biggest challenge has been to quell doubts on his integrity in the face of allegations in his regard, particularly by Daphne Caruana Galizia. Among other things, the blogger claimed that, in 2003, money from a London-based prostitution racket had passed through a Barclays International Jersey account belonging to him. Keen to clear his name, Dr Delia invited this newspaper to view “hard evidence” in the form of documents, which he says, prove his innocence. Keith Micallef reports.
Timeline of events
(based on the available documents)
January 4, 1999 – Healey Properties Ltd is incorporated in the Bahamas by ILS Corporate Services Ltd, a corporate service provider to whom the ultimate beneficial owner is known.
April 14, 1999 – Adrian Delia, the sole director, is granted power of attorney on behalf of Healey, valid for five years, to obtain a loan facility backed by cash collateral (money held at Bank of Valletta), to enable the purchase of a property in 52, Greek Street, Soho, London.
September 27, 1999 – On the instructions of his client Healey, Dr Delia instructs BOV to transfer funds to Chathams, a firm of solicitors handling the purchase of properties on behalf of Healey.
May, 2000 – The Soho property is bought and insured.
2001 – A lease agreement is signed between Healey and Martin Farrugia as lessee, who, unbeknown to Healey and in breach of the lease agreement, later rented out the property to Emanuel Bajada and his wife, Eve.
2003 – Healey engages Pitts Tucker solicitors to represent it and gives it a general power of attorney to act in the best interests of the company on all fronts.
July, 2003 – UK police raid the property during an anti-prostitution operation and three Russian nationals are charged before a UK court.
December 2, 2003 – Dr Delia resigns as director of Healey properties.
December 9, 2003 – The three Russians are indicted in connection with prostitution.
December 10, 2003 – Pitts Tucker send a letter directly to the Bajadas for the first time.
December 15, 2003 – Pitts Tucker send another letter to Carter Lemon Camerons, legal counsel to the Bajadas, enquiring how and why they collected about £1.3 million in rent in connection with the Soho property.
December 18, 2003 – Mr Farrugia, the recognised tenant, engages lawyers Emmanuel Mallia & Associates to ask Barclays Bank for a statement of his account.
December 19, 2003 – Carter Lemon Camerons, on behalf of the Bajadas, write to Dr Delia saying that, according to their clients, he had failed to pass the money they deposited for the rent to Healey. The Bajadas threaten to take legal action if he fails to comply.
January 7, 2004 – Dr Delia faxes a copy of the December 19 letter to Pitts Tucker. He also sends to his client a copy of the letter Pitts Tucker had sent to Carter Lemons on December 15.
January 15, 2004 – Carter Lemon Camerons inform Pitts Tucker they are no longer counsel to Mr Bajada.
January 2004 – Mr Farrugia files a judicial letter in Malta against Eve and Lolly Bajada, accusing them of having fraudulently taken rent money they paid him from his Barclays Bank account.
January 2004 – Acting as legal counsel to the ultimate beneficiary owner of Healey, Dr Delia informs lawyer Joseph Buttigieg, acting for the Bajadas, about the amount his clients were prepared to accept from them to resolve the issue. Dr Buttigieg said his clients refused the offer.
February 24, 2004 – Pitts Tucker informs the ultimate beneficial owner that, from evidence produced in court, it transpired that Eve Bajada was collecting rent from the three Russians charged with running the brothel.
April 24, 2004 – Pitts Tucker, now also representing Mr Farrugia, write to Eve Bajada holding her responsible in damages and accusing her of having allowed the premises to be used for prostitution while she was managing the property in the period that Mr Farrugia was not in the UK.
They demanded she pays the rent due, amounting to about £800,000, and also holding her responsible for the loss in value the property suffered because of her actions.
HSBC document on Jersey bank account
Dr Delia insists he knows nothing about the bank account he supposedly has in Jersey and that such document was not in the client’s file, which, he noted, had been archived for years at his own office.
Though, he insisted he did not remember ever having a Barclays account in Jersey he said he was not able to exclude such possibility.
He points out that on the same day Daphne Caruana Galizia published a document supposedly proving the existence of his jersey account, he had phoned Barclays International’s call centre late at night to enquire about the matter.
According to a recording of this call, which was made available to this newspaper, no record of such account was found in the past six years. Subsequently, Dr Delia sent an e-mail to Barclays International asking them to go back to 2003 but, to date, no reply is known to have been received.
It was noted that the sort code (a six-digit number, identifying both the bank and the branch where the account is held) appearing on the published HSBC document was identical to the one listed in the December 18, 2003 letter Mr Farrugia’s lawyers sent to Barclays Bank.
The Soho property
The premises in Greek Street, London, was part of a larger complex. The documents show that Healey Properties had acquired “limited ground floor and basement” for £260,000. However, Dr Delia says that a £20,512 monthly rent covered all the properties Healey rented out to Mr Farrugia.
Chris Cardona’s involvement
MaltaToday has reported that, at one point, Dr Delia and Labour deputy leader Chris Cardona were directors of Healey Properties. The report was based on a document dated December 2, 2003 when the Healy Properties board accepted the resignation of both. The document only bears Dr Delia’s signature.
Dr Delia produced documents he insists prove he was sole director. These include correspondence between Healey and Maltese banks in connection with a loan application and a letter in which Chethams asked the ultimate beneficial owner to instruct Dr Delia to issue a power of attorney to be able to purchase the property.
He insists that in his records he found no documents showing when Dr Cardona had been appointed. According to Dr Delia, even if Dr Cardona was a director with him that did not mean he was in business with the Labour MP. If that were the case, the same could be said to many within the PN’s ranks, especially lawyers.
Dr Cardona, too, has no recollection he was a Healey Properties Ltd director.
Big Frank Mifsud
Ms Caruana Galizia claimed that Dr Delia had links with Frank Mifsud, who, she said, ran a Soho crime syndicate in 1960s and 1970s. While refuting he had any links to prostitution rackets, Dr Delia refers to a declaration by Mr Mifsud on August 28: “I do not know the man and I have never had any dealings with him in a business or social capacity.”
Carter Lemon Camerons letter
In the letter, dated December 19, 2003, sent on his behalf by Carter Lemon Camerons, Mr Bajada said that, over a period of three to four years, a sum in the region of £20,000 a month for the rent of the London property had been deposited in Dr Delia’s Jersey account, the account number being included in the letter.
Yet, Mr Bajada wrote, Dr Delia did not forward the money to the property owners, with the result that he (Mr Bajada) was being chased over unpaid rent.
He warned Dr Delia to either forward the money or face court proceeding in Malta.
Dr Delia insists he never had a bank account bearing such number and that his involvement was just to secure a loan to purchase the property.
Furthermore, he adds, there was an account by Healey in which the rent could have been deposited.
Dr Delia also points out that his name did not emerge throughout the court proceedings in the UK about the prostitution racket.
The matter was raised by the PN ethics committee, which had been given 48 hours to probe the allegations.
In its conclusions, the committee noted that Dr Delia had not given an explanation on certain “unverified and pending issues” related to the Jersey account, particularly its use, scope and the legality of the source of the funds.
For this reason, the PN administrative council had called on Dr Delia to consider withdrawing from the contest.