Updated 7.40pm - The db group, which is to develop a mega project in St George's Bay, said this evening that it was the PN which asked it for donations, and it was even asked to cover the salaries of the PN general secretary and its CEO.

The group confirmed it had asked PN leader Simon Busuttil to return the money.

Earlier, Dr  Busuttul said he was shocked to have received an SMS from the CEO of the group asking the PN to return donations given to it.

He was speaking during a PN fund-raising marathon on Net TV.

The St George's Bay project by the db group (formerly the Seabank Group) includes a Hard Rock hotel and two towers with hundreds of apartments.

The PN has criticised the project and deputy leader Mario de Marco gave up his role as legal adviser to the group after he was criticised for having a conflict of interest.

READ Busuttil, Muscat cross swords on de Marco's involvement in Seabank's mega development

Dr Busuttil said he had received the SMS on his private mobile phone after a speech this morning about the project.

He said that on receiving the shocking message, his first thought was that this was a threat. Had the developers donated money to the PN in order to bribe it, to buy its silence? Was that why they now wanted their money back?

And, by the same yardstick, how much did they give Labour for Joseph Muscat to have given them such a large tract of land?

This message Dr Busuttil said, reinforced his determination to change politics, to draw a line and not allow any dirt and bribery.

He did not disclose how much the donations amounted to, but said the CEO had requested a meeting for the funds to be returned. 

Group replies: It was the PN which requested donations

In a reply, the db group confirmed sending a text message to Dr Busuttil earlier this afternoon. The SMS read:

'Dottor Busuttil qeghdin nitolbu meeting urgent mieghek halli il-partit irodd lura dak kollu li l-grupp taghna gie mitlub ihallas matul iz-zmien.

The group said it had been specifically asked to cover the monthly salaries of various PN Party personnel. This happened both pre-Simon Busuttil’s coming to leader and after.

We were asked to cover the salaries of both the Secretary General and the party’s CEO- db Group

"More specifically since the latter became leader we were asked to cover the salaries of both the Secretary General and the party’s CEO.

"Dr Simon Busuttil is fully abreast of both the request for these funds as well as their acceptance. Requests for funds from the PN have reached us as late as yesterday," the group said.

"We have never, ever, asked for any favours from the PN either when in Government or not," the CEO said.

"I reiterate that the funds were always requested by the PN and not donated by us."

The Group said it welcomed the suggestion of the Opposition leader to have the contract it signed with government over the ITS site in St George's Bay, St Julians scrutinised by the Auditor General.

"No one in this country is more eager for the truth to win out on this matter than our Group.

"The reason is obvious to those who have the decency to hear. For the first time in history, the price of the public land in question was not determined by the parties to the deal but by Deloitte, an auditing firm of international repute. And we, as a Group, abided by its decision.

"There can be no stronger proof that we never expected any favour and never received any. It is precisely for this reason that any allegation of corruption from the PN is simply a hurtful lie," the group said.

PL says it only got €2,000 from the DB Group

The Labour Party in a statement said it received a donation of €2,000 from the db Group - in 2016. It asked the PN to declare how much it was given in donations by the group. 

Dr Busuttil had said that Mario de Marco had a conflict of interest when he worked as legal adviser to the group, yet he had not revealed his own party's deal with the group, worth hundreds of thousands of euro, the PL said.  

Replying, the PN said it did not believe that the PL only received €2,000 from the db group. It also said that no donation would silence it.  

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