Nationalist Party leadership contender Bernard Grech has settled almost €30,000 in tax dues, as part of a plan to bring his affairs in order, Times of Malta understands.
Grech sent a representative to the Inland Revenue Department on Monday morning with a cheque to settle dues on unpaid taxes spanning a number of years.
He admitted: "I could have been more careful".
Although he had originally disputed the amount owed, Grech opted against taking the dispute further.
His spokesman said that although the would-be PN leader had the right to contest both the amount owed as well as penalties and interest, he had chosen not to exercise this right and had settled the full amount.
He said: "Dr Grech wanted to ensure there are no pending amounts with the Office of the Commissioner for Revenue, although he had every right to contest such amounts. This to the extent that he decided to renounce to this right and settle the full amount under remission."
'I have to be better'
In a video uploaded on Facebook on Monday afternoon, Grech conceded that he should not have got himself into this situation.
"I am aware that a number of you are concerned about the stories about me regarding tax. I am concerned too because I admit that I could have been more careful for this situation not to arise,” Grech said.
He said that a few weeks ago he had started a process to check and verify any pending amounts.
“I understand that as a politician I have to be far better than that. I believe that politicians have to be held to higher standards over how they conduct themselves in public life. I want to do this too,” he said.
Grech said that he had waived a contestation over interest and fines levelled by the tax authorities.
“I renounced this right to have no problems in this regard. I can say with my head held high, that I have not got a single pending cent with the tax authorities.”
Grech said the reports on his tax situation had been prompted by the government which was concerned about positive results he was showing in surveys.
“The Labour government does not like to see me enter politics, and to see you all fill with hope that the Nationalist Party can once again be a strong party,” he said.
He closed by saying that further "attacks” on him would be forthcoming but said “together we can overcome”.
The move came just 24 hours after it was revealed that the aspiring opposition leader had a history of tax irregularities.
Grech last month entered into an agreement with the tax man to settle a number of dues and irregularities.
He signed up for a payment plan with tax official just a few days after submitting his nomination for party leader.
Over the weekend he provided the press with a copy of a tax compliance certificate issued earlier this month, saying it was self-explanatory.
Meanwhile, sources told Times of Malta that the family lawyer, had first started receiving correspondence urging him to get his affairs in order back in 2006.
A senior tax official said that had Grech not done so after deciding to enter politics, court proceedings would have begun.
Grech had adjusted his declared income for 2016, 2017, and 2019, raising it from what he had previously claimed to have earned.
A look at Grech’s declared income shows he claimed to have made just €6,500 in 2009. This climbed up to €15,000 in 2013, according to sources familiar with his tax situation.
The aspiring PN leader, a complete newcomer to the political scene, has not filed a VAT return for three years.
Times of Malta is informed that he has also been slapped with €2,000 in penalties and €1,300 in interest following late submissions of income tax.
He is understood to have defended his position, telling tax officials that he had experienced “financial difficulties” in recent years.
Grech is up against incumbent leader Adrian Delia, himself no stranger to financial woes.
In 2018, the tax authorities agreed on an €81,000 settlement with the PN and opposition leader for unpaid taxes.
Last week Times of Malta reported how Delia had filed his 2018 income tax returns a year late.
Both Delia and Grech have submitted financial information to a PN commission tasked with carrying out a due diligence exercise on the prospective leadership candidates.
The election is expected to be held next month.
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