Entrepreneur Anġlu Xuereb tabled an identical offer to that made by the government to pay €4.2 million of taxpayers’ money to buy back its public lease of Valletta’s iconic Cafe Premier, Times of Malta can reveal.

Mr Xuereb said the offer fell through because the company directors were asking for more, a sum he was not prepared to pay. Four days after Mr Xuereb made this offer, Cafe Premier director Mario Camilleri submitted a request to the government of €5.37 million as a starting point for discussions. This was after a meeting held with the Prime Minister on April 17, 2013, soon after the Labour Party was voted into power.

Addressing the shortcomings exposed by the National Audit Office related to the government’s negotiations on the Valletta property, Prime Minister Muscat has insisted the government was faced with two choices: lengthy court litigation or paying off the owners for the remainder of the lease agreement and recouping funds owed.

The NAO report tabled in Parliament was critical of the government’s lack of consideration of the legal option. The Prime Minister’s stand ignored the report’s reference to negotiations between Cafe Premier directors and third parties that had already reached an advanced stage.