Bahamas landlord: “John Dalli arrived on 4th or 5th September on a private jet and they all – the key people in the group – flew out again on the same jet on the 7th or 8th.”

Published: May 12, 2015 at 10:17am

Barry Connor is seated, second from right, wearing a blue shirt. This picture was taken in August 2012.

Barry Connor is seated, second from right, wearing a blue shirt. This picture was taken in August 2012.

On 5 July 2013 I spoke to Barry Connor, who had rented his house in the Bahamas to John Dalli’s daughter Claire for a year (the previous year), and then published the interview that same day on this website. The interview took place over the telephone; Connor was in the Bahamas.

In the light of the fresh news stories, I think I should publish it again.

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Did Claire Gauci Borda actually ever stay in the Bahamas?

No, I never saw her in the Bahamas. She never came here. Her sister Louisa did, though – she came out with her father in August.

They arrived on the 21st and stayed a few days. I know they were still here on the 24th, because there was a barbecue and they were there.

So where did Mrs Gauci Borda sign the contract, if not in the Bahamas?

She signed it in Malta, and had it sent over to the Bahamas, which is how I have her original signature.

When John Dalli and his daughter Louisa went out to the Bahamas in August, was Mrs Dalli with them?

No. I never saw a Mrs Dalli. There was no mention of a wife.

Who used the house? When did they arrive, and when did they leave?

They were a group of people. At one time there were a dozen people staying there. I had to bring in extra bedding from off my boat.

They talked about gold deals and investment in gold mines, but you know what, I don’t think there was really any gold being dealt. They spoke to me about some big gold deal they had coming through in December. They talked about investing in some kind of power plant that uses cheaper fuel, for Africa.

They talked about all this money they had coming in. And they talked to me about this idea they had for a charity which employs single mothers in the Bahamas to weave baskets and sell them to tourists. And I told them – what, here? This is the Bahamas, not China.

It was clear to me that by the end of August they weren’t discussing deals any more, but an exit strategy.

How do you know all this?

I was up at the house almost every day. I knew some of those people. I have friends in Malta. We spoke about a trust. I have a trust they were thinking of using.

What struck you particularly?

They paid all their bills in cash. They came here with what must have been in excess of 10,000 euros in 500 euro notes. They had trouble exchanging them at the banks here because they look askance at 500 euro notes. They paid all their bills out in the shops and restaurants in cash.

They were paying everything in cash to the point where they were bringing attention to themselves. People soon found out where they were living. In the Bahamas, if you show you have a lot of cash, you’re likely to get robbed. They had people going round to their house, to see what they could get.

They opened no accounts here and they didn’t use credit or debit cards. They had money wired to them, I think through Western Union.

What was the problem with the rent?

They were staying at the Hilton. They came through a realtor, saw the house and took it within minutes. They wanted it for three months, but I said that I work only on year-on-year contracts. So they said, fine, they would take it for a year.

The contract was signed in Malta on 14 July (2012) for a year. I normally charge $10,000 a month but I gave them a special price of $8,000 a month. They paid me for July and August, and left in early September. John Dalli arrived on the 4th or the 5th September on a private jet and they all – the key people in the group – flew out again on the same jet on the 7th or 8th.

They left from Nassau airport at 1am, when customs and passport clearance are closed, and headed for Halifax to refuel before crossing to Europe. I think they had to go right up to Halifax for that because one of their number couldn’t enter the United States.

They left a couple of people behind in the house, Americans who didn’t even have their fare back home. I had to buy their air tickets so that they could go back, but I billed Claire Gauci Borda for that, along with the utility bills that hadn’t been paid.

Did they pull out of their tenancy agreement?

No, they kept saying to me that they were coming back. Even in January they said they were coming back, when I was chasing them for the rent I was owed.

I had a month’s rent as a security deposit, and payment for July and August, which means they owed me $72,000. I came to Malta to try and get it, because my emails were ignored or met with excuses. I came in December (2012), and January and February (2013).

Did you meet John Dalli when you came to Malta?

No, because he was in Brussels and staying away from Malta at the time*. The first time I went, it was to that place opposite The Palace hotel**.

Claire’s husband*** opened the door. They got a shock when they saw me on their doorstep. More excuses – we don’t have the money, the money’s coming through, we’ll pay you soon, we have a major gold deal coming up…

I never broke off contact with them, because when you’re owed money you have to keep the relationship going until you get it back.

When did they pay you, and was it the full amount?

Yes, they paid it all up. I’m not owed anything by them and can put the unpleasant experience behind me. Because the Bahamas and Malta are both in the British Commonwealth, it’s relatively straightforward to serve people in Malta with papers from the courts in the Bahamas.

So I began preparing the documents for judicial service, and let them know that this was my last resort after all my requests had been rebuffed with excuses. The last of the money arrived by wire transfer two days later.

Court documents would have made the matter public, and I suppose Claire Gauci Borda didn’t want the newspapers reporting on how she was being sued for tens of thousands of dollars outstanding on a villa rental out here in the Bahamas.

I gathered there was an election campaign going on there. It was Claire who authorised and signed for the wire transfer. It came through HSBC Bank in Malta.

You said that you discussed a trust with Dalli.

Yes, they were talking about a trust in the Bahamas with his daughters as protectors of the trust through a company. They couldn’t be trustees because trustees have to be Bahamian.

Were you going to be the trustee?

No.

Was it you who contacted The New York Times, or did they track you down?

They tracked me down, and I don’t know how they did that, how they had the information. I had forgotten about those people. They had paid and that was it. I preferred to forget them. It was only when the journalist from The New York Times contacted me that it brought it all up again.

OLAF said it might reopen its investigation after finding out about Dalli’s Bahamas visits.

But they knew about it. OLAF knew. I told OLAF around 28th/29th November (2012) about Dalli’s trips to the Bahamas and the purpose for them. I did that because I wanted to cover myself. The last thing I wanted was to be accused of blackmailing him. So I told them about the situation before I began chasing my money properly and visiting Malta to try and get it.

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Notes on above:

* This was when Dalli was evading Police Commissioner John Rizzo using ‘medical certificates’ (signed by a doctor who works for another scam ‘Christian’ operation) saying that his psycho-social problems did not allow him to travel.

** This is the flat in Sliema’s High Street where Mary Swan lived and from which she operated until last January.

***Adrian Gauci Borda, who is heavily involved in the family’s operations.