BREAKING/Silvio Debono photographed in Cannes, selling St George’s Bay tower-flats for which he doesn’t have a permit

Published: March 16, 2017 at 2:01pm

UPDATED with reply from Lewis Bondi, at end of post.

Silvio Debono, the corrupt real estate developer and hotelier who is at the epicentre of a political scandal involving a major public-land deal at St George’s Bay, is currently in Cannes, promoting the project which is outside current zoning policy and for which he does not have planning permission.

A friend who is at the MIPIM, the world’s largest real estate fair, in Cannes today photographed Debono on his ‘DB City Centre’ stand, surrounded by images of his tower-block and Hardrock hotel complex, trying to persuade people to buy an entire floor “as an investment”.

“They are actively promoting the sale of whole floors of four flats each rather than individual units,” my friend reports.

Debono’s deal with the government, which has only just been signed, has been referred by the Opposition leader to the Auditor General, for investigation. The Opposition leader is now compromised by revelations that his deputy, Mario Demarco, “negotiated the contract clause by clause”, according to Konrad Mizzi, the corrupt cabinet minister who set up a company in Panama and a trust in New Zealand shortly after being appointed to office, and who signed off on the deal for the government.

Debono’s project plans fly in the face of current zoning policy and are also in contravention of the floor area ratio (FAR) policy. The project is subject to planning permission.

I tried to ring Silvio Debono on his stall in Cannes to ask him whether he is taking people’s money for flats for which he does not yet have planning permission, but he didn’t pick up the phone or ring back. So I sent him the following message:

Kif qieghed Cannes tbiegh il-flats f’progett bla permess u li qieghed barra miz-zoning policy area? Qieghed tiehu flus in-nies? Tghidilhom li bla permess?

I received no reply, so I messaged his public relations officer, Lewis (his real name) Bondi:

Your client Silvio Debono has been photographed in Cannes this morning on a big stand covered with pictures of his planned project at St George’s Bay, trying to sell whole floors x four flats each, when he hasn’t got a permit yet, and the towers are outside current zoning policy. What is he telling prospective buyers, and is he taking their money even at this ambiguous stage?

He has replied:

We are indeed very proud to be showcasing our project at the MIPIM property fair in Cannes, as are so many from all over the world with projects which are at the same stage as ours. MIPIM is one of the most sought after and prestigious firms in this business.

It is not only normal practice to showcase and negotiate with interested parties a project of this size at this early stage, but inevitable. At the same time, as we have emphasised in the past and repeat today, the success of such initiatives remains totally dependent on the outcome of the planning process.

Verbatim please.

I have messaged back with a further question:

Is it also normal to take deposits on flats for which there is no planning permission? Why is your client taking deposits at this early stage? Does he need the money to help build the flats?

This is the reply:

We have nothing to add to the answer we gave you.