The owners of part of a property in Old Mint Street, Valletta, said today that they did not consider it prudent to sell their shares to Marco Gaffarena while two inquiries into the government's expropriation of ownership already held by Mr Gaffarena are concluded.

The owners - the Cefai Family - have a promise of sale agreement signed last March and valid for a year.

The Sunday Times of Malta reported earlier this month that the owners did not show up to conclude the sale after learning that Mr Gaffarena was buying their ownership only to then sell them to the government at a profit.

Tanya Sciberras Camilleri, one of the lawyers appearing in court for the Cefai family this morning said there was no need for a warrant as the promise of sale agreement was valid until March next year. She said that after the story broke in the newspaper, Mr Gaffarena was suddenly in a hurry to conclude the sale.

However, she argued, it was not prudent for her clients to conclude the sale at this stage while two inquiries were being held over the way how Mr Gaffarena's ownership was expropriated by the government shortly after being sold to him.

She also pointed out that there were financial issues, since  the government has so far bought two quarters of the property at €822,500 each, in two separate contracts. The promise of sale agreement is for €139,762. 

Times of Malta reported over the past weeks how the Mercieca family, which sold Mark Gaffarena part ownership of a Valletta property at the centre of a controversial expropriation are facing a tax investigation. They sold their part to Mr Gaffarena for the same value listed on the Cefai family’s promise of sale agreement, but the government architect evaluated a quarter of the property as being worth €822,500 – it is the government architect’s evaluation that the tax department considers the real value.

The Mercieca family now faces a tax bill that can amount to more than the amount they received for the sale of their share to Mr Gaffarena. This is the scenario the Cefai family faces if they proceed with the sale to Mr Gaffarena.

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