Nationalist Party activists are baffled by a decision to hold a fund-raising activity in a hotel owned by the db Group, with which the party had a fierce clash earlier this year.

The dispute was sparked off by a government decision to sell a prime site in St George’s Bay to db Group, which the PN had described as “one of the biggest scandals of the Labour government”.

Subsequently, the db Group said the PN had asked it for money to cover the salaries of its secretary general and CEO.

The party then severed all links with the group, to the point that candidates were even strongly discouraged from holding any activities in any of their premises.

Nine months down the line and under a new leadership team headed by Adrian Delia, the scenario appears to have changed completely.

The PN is advertising a Christmas dinner at the db San Antonio in Buġibba on December 14 and Dr Delia is expected to be present.

Party observers said the choice of venue took many by surprise not only at grassroots level but also within the PN parliamentary group.

PN activists contacted the Times of Malta, expressing concern that such a decision seriously dented the party’s credibility in its struggle for transparency and good governance.

“How can the party organise such an event in a db hotel after what we have gone through earlier this year? Is this the result of an agreement between the new leadership we do not know of or a change in position by the new leadership?” PN sources said.

When contacted, a PN spokesman insisted the party had never declared any boycott against the company. He said the sale of land in question was still being investigated by the National Audit Office, though he would not say whether there had been any change in position on the matter.

“The Nationalist Party will await the outcome of that investigation before commenting any further,” the spokesman said.

Spanning over an area of 24,000 square metres, the site earmarked for development is presently occupied by the Institute for Tourism Studies, which will be replaced by a 37-storey residential tower, a 17-storey Hard Rock Hotel, a casino and a shopping mall.

Saying the sale was “on the cheap”, the PN had insisted the db Group would only pay €15 million in staggered payments, however, the government has insisted that the correct amount was €60 million.

As the controversy escalated, the hotel chain had asked the PN to refund the donations made by the group. The party had denied it had asked the db Group to finance any wages but acknowledged that there was a “commercial relationship” between its media arm and the group worth €70,800.

The Labour Party had also joined the fray, saying that such a relationship constituted a clear breach of party financing laws by the PN.

The Electoral Commission, which has the responsibility to enforce the party financing, had launched an investigation.

The PN objected and said the commission could not be “judge and jury” at the same time. The probe never started but the party instituted a constitutional case, which continues.

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