The Yana Mintoff land deal story gets even more interesting
Published: September 13, 2012 at 11:47pm
It was not around 2004 that the ODZ boundary was stretched into that extraordinary shape to accommodate the Mintoff daughters’ land (that was when they applied for and got an outline development permit).
It was much earlier than that. The land was sold to Yana and Anne Mintoff in 1986 for Lm4,000 as arable land. In 1986 (Labour government in those days) there were no proper parameters for regulating building development.
The system deployed between 1983 and the 1987 general election, when Labour was removed from power, was that of BDAs (Building Development Area). These were at the sole discretion of Public Works Minister Lorry Sant.
It should be quite obvious that Yana and Anne Mintoff did not intend to use that land to become part-time farmers growing organic vegetables.
A few months after they bought the land, Labour lost the election and the incoming Nationalist government more or less immediately scrapped the BDA (non) system.
Instead of that system, incoming Public Works Minister Michael Falzon set up what was known as the ‘temporary provision scheme’. Under this scheme, a committee received and considered representations from land-owners who wished their land to be included within a development zone. Malta was about to emerge from years of stagnation and into a building boom, so there was plenty of clamouring there.
The committee took the decisions on whether land should be included or left excluded. Members of the committee were not supposed to know who owned the land put before them for consideration, so that this would not be a factor affecting their judgement, but mainly because their decisions were supposed to be based on technical, environmental and geographical considerations only.
But given that this piece of Mintoff land juts out so absurdly, it is clear that a special concession was made. And special concessions are not made for the sake of the inanimate land, but for the sake of the owners.
As one prominent person involved in the field (an unfortunate choice of expression) said to me earlier this evening: “When you rationalise land for schemes like this, it is standard practice to be as regular as possible, to contain the area as much as possible, with no sharp edges, strange shapes or indentations. You create a smooth boundary.”
By 1989, the ‘map’ of areas newly permitted for development was complete, and parliament voted on it (favourably).
Earlier tonight, I rang Michael Falzon, the minister who was then responsible, to ask what he knows or remembers about this case. He is away from Malta, but told me he would check through his papers on his return this weekend.
For a start, we need to know who the members of that committee were, and whether their deliberations were minuted.
Now to the next question, which is why the Mintoff sisters didn’t sell that land immediately it was incorporated into a building development zone in 1989.They will never tell us, but my view is that – as was common practice in thosee days with Labour ministers who wished to conceal their holdings, using members of their extended family, trusted fronts or il-Fusellu – they were the ‘on paper’ owners, holding the land for their father, Dom Mintoff.
Though they would have had every right to sell it while he was alive, as they held the legal title, they would not have dared do so without his authorisation and would have had to give him the money anyway, so there would have been no point.
Once their father began to suffer from dementia around 2004/2005 (that’s when his public behaviour began to be increasingly erratic and weird), they began exploring the options and applied for an outline development permit, and when he was totally senile, in 2009, they sold it.
Of course, it might just be that they never bothered, and that they’re so comfortably off or indifferent to worldly goods and money that they were content to sit on land worth millions for two decades because liquidity was not an issue.