Nationalist Party leadership contender Adrian Delia holds wife’s permanent and general power of attorney

Published: August 11, 2017 at 9:44pm

Nationalist Party leadership contender Adrian Delia holds his wife’s permanent and general power of attorney, allowing him to bypass the fundamental changes made to Maltese marriage law in 1993 which made it illegal – and impossible – for married men to enter into transactions of bank debt, sale or acquisition of immovable property and all the contracts attendant on any of this without their wife’s consent and signature. (Similarly, the law does not permit wives to enter into those transactions without their husband’s consent and signature.)

Before the 1993 changes, under Maltese law the husband was the effective and legal head of the household and his wife had the legal status of their children, with no say under the law in any decisions taken and unable even to prevent the sale of jointly-owned property without her knowledge or consent.

Husbands were also able to enter into debt with banks and other creditors without their wife’s knowledge or consent – even though the wife was liable at law for repayment of those debts along with her husband.

By acquiring a permanent and general power of attorney from his wife, Dr Delia has been able to revert the legal regime under which his marriage operates to that of pre-1993. He does not require his wife’s consent or signature at law for transactions of shares, real estate or other significant assets, nor to enter into debt with banks (loans and overdrafts) or third parties.

On 20th March 2006, Dr Delia borrowed – with his fellow company shareholders – a total of €12 million from HSBC Bank Malta plc. His wife’s signature was required at law for that loan.

One month later, on 24th April, his wife – a lawyer called Nickie Vella de Fremeaux, who used to specialise in, of all things, family law – gave him a permanent and general power of attorney, effectively signing away her right at law to be kept informed of how the money was used and whether payments were being met. (She also signed away her right to consent to and sign on any other transactions entered into by her husband.) She remained, however, liable with her husband for the debt.

Eleven years later, only €5 million of the original €12 million were repaid, the payment schedule was not adhered to, and HSBC Bank began exerting pressure for the repayment of the remaining €7 million still owed, plus interest.

Because they are unable to pay it as the situation stands, HSBC Bank has insisted on a formal admission of the debt plus interest, called a constitution of debt, which is drawn up by a notary and signed by the bank and its debtors.

This constitution of debt for €7 million plus interest was signed two weeks ago, on 26th July, but has not yet been filed at the Public Registry. However, because constitutions of debt are public deeds, under the law the notary cannot refuse requests for copies, even when those requests are made by ordinary members of the public or journalists. Within minutes of a phone-call to the notary in question, this website had a copy of the constitution of debt (a detailed report about the debt itself will be made in a later post, including comments from Dr Delia).

The first thing I noticed when reading it was that Dr Vella de Fremeaux, though listed as jointly and severally liable for the €7.2 million debt along with her husband, his business colleagues and their spouses, is not a signatory to this formal admission to the debt. The document notes down that her husband, Dr Adrian Delia, has her full power of attorney and that this power of attorney was given to him on 24th April 2006.

I immediately rang Dr Delia to ask whether his wife knows about the constitution of debt (and other questions about the debt itself) and why he has her power of attorney. The conversation did not go well at all. I found him infuriating to speak to, circular in his arguments, evasive and patronising. I ask point-blank, specific questions and therefore expect point-blank, specific answers.

Instead he used volleys of words to avoid answering the questions, and treated me like an idiot, saying that it wasn’t him not answering the questions but I who didn’t understand his answers. In other words, exactly the sort of patronising Maltese man who is cast-iron-guaranteed to make me lose my rag. Things became very loud and very angry, very quickly.

This is the edited and civilised version of that part of the conversation. (Dr Delia is currently on holiday with his wife and children, away from Malta.)


You appeared and signed for your wife on that constitution of debt with HSBC Bank for €7.2 million. Does she know about it?

Of course she knows about it. If you know about it, she knows about it. It’s a public deed.

I only know about it because I was tipped off and got a copy from the notary. Maybe you expect your wife to be tipped off and go to the notary for a copy too? Did you tell her about it?

She knows.

That’s not what I asked. If she knows, why wasn’t she present for the signing or involved in the negotiations?

Because I have her power of attorney.

Again, that’s not what I asked. Why do you have her power of attorney? In other words, why did she give it to you, when her legal training should make her aware of the risks?

Because she trusts me.

Lots of women through history trusted their husbands or had no choice but to do so because of the pre-1993 law. It didn’t necessarily turn out brilliantly well. So are you saying here that the 99.99% of married women in Malta who don’t give their husbands a full, general and permanent power of attorney don’t trust their husbands? Or that all women who trust their husbands should give them a full power of attorney? And then you expect them to vote for you. This is 2017 not 1917.

No, that’s not what I’m saying.

That’s exactly what you’re saying. So your wife didn’t go with you to sign on that constitution of debt because she trusts you, but Georg’s (Sapiano) wife went with him because she doesn’t trust him? It seems to me that this is what you’re saying. Also, you expect me to believe that she came up to you one day and said “I trust you so much, Adrian, that I’m going to give you my full power of attorney. And don’t think I’m going to let you refuse.” That doesn’t make sense to me. What it sounds like to me is that you asked – probably badgered – her for her full and general power of attorney and she gave in. In fact, I should have asked the question that way round at the outset: not ‘Why did your wife give you her power of attorney?’ but ‘Why did you ask your wife for her power of attorney?’ So go on, why did you ask your wife for her power of attorney?


We decided together. Because we had five children…

Please don’t come at me with your five children. Women don’t lose their mental faculties and their self-respect when they have children. It’s possible to have children and also take a couple of hours out of your day to go to a notary. Besides which, you’re talking to somebody who changed thousands of nappies in her lifetime and is not impressed by other people’s nappies. And a word of advice: stop using your children as a campaign device, because you’re starting to sound like one of those people who think it’s a miracle they produced any. Tell the public about your policy ideas instead. So again, why did you ask your wife for her power of attorney?

Because back then when we got the loan to start developing the flats at Mgarr, we had five…she decided to stay at home with the children because we had fi…she decided to take a step back and focus on raising the children.

OK. So first you got her to sign on the €12 million loan from the bank, then immediately you got the loan – well, not immediately because it took you a full month to persuade her – you got her to sign away her right to decide how the money is used and how the debt, for which she is liable, is repaid. Why?


So let me get this straight: you got your wife to sign away the rights she has through the 1993 marriage law, and meanwhile you also encouraged her to flush her law career and all that training down the lavatory and become totally dependent on you financially. I don’t like the sound of this. I like it even less coming from somebody aiming to become Opposition leader and then Prime Minister. I’m not comfortable with it at all.

My wife did not flush her career down the toilet. You’re a journalist, you say? You’re a journalist? That’s just your opinion.

Actually, it’s a fact. You yourself said that you asked her for her permanent and general power of attorney because she is so busy with her – what was it again, five? – children that she can’t possibly be expected to take a decision or two hours out of her schedule to appear on contracts in which she has a direct and compelling interest. So how is she working on clients’ decisions and contracts if she is too busy to bother with the few of her own? And yes, I’m a journalist. But you’re not a politician. Not yet, anyway.

I’m going back to continue my lunch. I don’t need to have this conversation.

Actually you do, because I’m asking these questions for the public you expect to vote for you. If and when you become Prime Minister, will you make it illegal for one spouse to give a power of attorney to the other? Because the way the situation is today, men who hold the purse-strings can coerce their wives into signing away their rights at law. And there is no justifiable reason for a man to have his wife’s power of attorney or even to ask for it in the first place. In fact, you couldn’t give me one. Even if a woman is certified insane, her husband doesn’t get to decide things on her behalf. And the Courts don’t give him a power of attorney to do it. They appoint curators to look after her interests.

Are you saying that my wife is insane? Is that what you said, that my wife is insane? I’m ending this conversation now.

I did not say your wife is insane. Don’t try that old trick with me.

By this time, we are both extremely annoyed and using deeply unprofessional tones of voice. He is clearly irritated by my refusal to listen in silence to his circular arguments without remarking on the flaws in them, and I am enraged by the chauvinism and more so by what I suspect is happening. We decide to end the conversation.

Nationalist Party leadership contender Adrian Delia

57 Comments Comment

  1. Odyssey says:

    Do we have no choice but to vote for Chris Said? Not excited at all, after all the spokes he put in Simon Busuttil’s wheels.

    Mind you, Guido de Marco did the same to Eddie Fenech Adami and Joseph Muscat did the same to Alfred Sant respectively. I guess this is normal in politics. It’s a power grab.

    • Fudil says:

      Chris Said putting spokes in wheels is another lie Delia is trying, pathetically, to spin around unsuccessfully.

      If anything Chris Said halved the gap with Labour in the Council elections of 2015. When he left as Sec Gen, the Party lost won ground straight away.

      Chris Said is the man the PN needs right now. Never underestimate the resolve of a determined Gozitan.

  2. Maria says:

    And Nickie Vella de Fremeaux was chosen by the European Parliament Information Office to lecture people on work-life balance!

    • c calafato says:

      She used to be a guest on Net TV talking about family law and empowering women to be independent and not give power of attorney blindly.

  3. Joe Bloggs says:

    Not entirely sure that the general POA is the story here as opposed to a PN leader candidate developing what sounds like a block of flats in Mgarr, late on bank repayments, and seven million euro in debt.

  4. Rosie says:

    This may sound irrelevant to some but I despise people who although up to their noses in debt still manage to exacerbate their situation by taking another 6 people on holiday.Ivvutawlu ha jsir kap, ja boloh.

  5. pacikk says:

    Isn’t it against the law to enter into debt agreements without the other half knowing? I do believe banks do not accept loan agreements on POAs, not even general ones.

  6. Spiderman says:

    Another Nationalist Party leadership contender with a hefty debt of millions to pay. He aspires to be leader and plans to support his family (of wife and 5 children) and in the meantime also repay the loan…

  7. EarthwormDave says:

    The more one learns about people like Delia and Portelli the sadder one becomes at Simon Busuttil’s decision to stand down. He was not perfect but he was a very impressive, high-quality individual. Leagues ahead of the four candidates for leadership of the Nationalist Party.

    • Ruth Bonnici says:

      I do not think I will go and vote. I do not particularly like any of them. I too think Simon Busuttil should have soldiered on. I am disgusted with all their bickering and all the PN’s internal mess. I am ashamed to live in a country where society thrives on corruption and basically I have so had enough of the lot of them.

      • M Farrugia says:

        Simon Busuttil simply let the 20k plus voters who showed his full trust in him down and many of these will surely abandon the Nationalist Party. These voters expected him to stay on and keep pressure on Muscat and his gang, but backed by a strong finance and economy spokesperson who is in contact with businesses.

        This is what was surely lacking in the last election. Backed by a strong economy spokesperson such as Tonio Fenech, who would also been capable of rubbishing the new power station and tanker on which millions were spent and are still not functioning as well as the mess at Air Malta, Busuttil would have surely increased PN chances. One has also to keep in mind that Busuttil was playing against an organised Mafia and not a normal political party.

  8. Josephine says:

    Was Delia lying about having had five children by 2006? His eldest daughter is 14 at the most, there are no twins, and there are around two under-tens in the family, so my guess is that he had two or three children at most in 2006. Why bluff about something like that? It’s not like the children’s photos were never plastered on Facebook. Oh, wait – his wife has taken her Facebook profile down (quite recently).

  9. Zhu Hsi says:

    Some in the situation may suggest having a stiff drink. Far from it. This whole process must be put on ice. All need to take a step back, think, and think again, consult, see what is in the general interest.

    And someone – maybe one of the party grandees who is no longer an MP – will need to hold the fort for a while, and reach out. Look for non-lawyerly (or non-notary) types. It may take months. Otherwise the Nationalist Party can forget it.

    • Antoine Vella says:

      Fortunately that is not going to happen. I say fortunately because, first of all, the longer the leadership contest lasts, the more radicalised will the different internal factions become.

      Secondly, Joseph Muscat is not going to wait until the PN elects a leader but will, on the contrary, take the opportunity to push more outrageous changes such as the legalisation of drugs and prostitution.

      Malta needs a leader of the Opposition as soon as possible.

  10. Stephen Forster says:

    8% interest p.a Hope it was a cheap holiday.

  11. As far as I’m concerned Adrian Delia disqualified himself the very first time he held a press conference and answered One TV’s questions. They asked him three questions and it is his answer to the first which disturbed me the most. (The other two were also poor answers.)

    In summary, he suggested that the government’s corruption scandals should be swept under the carpet and that the government and the opposition should sit down and clear up institutional issues.

    He did not support Simon Busuttil’s actions in pursuing the corrupt till the ends of the earth, something we should all support.

    This interview and the debts he owes should put paid to his chances in the leadership election.

    The problem is that the 1500 people who will decide that on the first instance cannot be very much different from the 300,000 or so who gave a 35,000 majority to Joseph Muscat, AGAIN.

    I hope I am wrong.

    • Evaristsammut says:

      Adrian Delia never said he was against fighting corruption and in particular the people involved in the panama scandal. See for yourself :-

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      I do not think there is any other way to interpret his oft repeated catchphrase “a new way” (which The Malta Independent now insists on capitalising, and which he never really explained):

      “Ghax taf int, qed inkunu negattivi wisq. Move along, nothing to see here. One must definitely not mention Keith Schembri by name lest the sod appear in the flesh.”

      • M Farrugia says:

        A new way. Hand in hand with Malta’s Mafia. Mhux hekk Dr Delia.

      • Odyssey says:

        Pierre Portelli is the common denominator between The Malta Independent and Adrian Delia.

        Journalists and editors should maintain their independence and avoid being involved in political campaigns.

        This applies to Pierre Portelli as much as it applied to Saviour Balzan (who managed John Dalli’s campaign).

  12. Sowxal says:

    Ara biex se nghabbu jekk Alla jrid. Midjun sa ruh ommu dan.

  13. Mgarr Developments Ltd had bank loans of 12 million euros, not 1 million. Of those, 7.2 million euros are still owed, for which all the shareholders are jointly and severally liable.

    This later post contains a description of what that means, as you clearly have no idea:

    Yes, Mrs Delia is a pushover submissive housewife, but that is your choice of words and not mine. I would find some other way of describing a woman who trains as a lawyer but then allows herself to be talked instead into becoming 100% financially dependent on her husband, and who gives him a full power of attorney just because he asks for it, instead of becoming instantly suspicious and refusing as any sensible woman would because there is no reason why a husband would need such a thing unless it is because he doesn’t want to be bothered by telling his wife stuff she needs to know.

  14. Life should have taught you to be extremely wary of ‘charismatic’ individuals. That so-called charisma is generally nothing more than one of the manifestations of narcissism, and it is generally used to cheat people or to bend them to the individual’s will.

    Also, I had a long conversation with Delia this afternoon and I didn’t find him even remotely charismatic. To be impressed by somebody like that, you’d need to have grown up in a Maltese cave.

  15. I’m sorry, did anybody mention corruption? It’s a loan of several million which they can’t pay, which is why the bank came after them for a constitution of debt.

    What are you saying here – that Malta should have an Opposition leader with a 7.2 million euro bank debt hanging over his head? You’ve got to be joking.

  16. How old are you exactly? You sound around 12.

  17. No, no, no – it’s not divisible. Read my latest post.

    I have no clique and at this point I think they should all be lined up and shot alongside the Labour Party. It’s fascinating, though, how Delia and his supporters are so receptive to Labour propaganda.

  18. Nothing, if you’re not planning on becoming the Leader of the Opposition.

    Nothing, if you can pay it and have met your payments regularly.

    The way people in Malta don’t understand money really kills me. What you should be asking is how a company with five of its seven shareholders still in their 30s and with no track record in building development got a bank loan of 12 million euros just 11 days after it was incorporated.

    Grow the hell up. One of the main reasons this country is in such a mess is that people need to have the basics explained to them all the time.

  19. I’m glad you brought up that business of aspirational role models for women, actually. I’m very concerned about the fact that over the last few years, role models for women are being deliberately moulded down that route: fake, flashy, empty-headed, perfectly coiffed and groomed, and worse still, kept by a man. Only now, the kept wife is no longer a housewife type of a previous generation. Now, she’s modelled on a tart who has to work hard to keep her man’s interest (and money).

    And please note that I am NOT talking about Dr Vella de Fremeaux because I don’t know her and quite frankly, to my reasonably experienced eyes her showing off seems to be the by-product of some kind of deep-rooted anxiety rather than anything else. She strikes me as somebody who was stripped of her inner peace by events or individuals. Again, I have no idea because I don’t know her. That is just what I pick up sort of instinctively.

  20. Desert Lizard says:

    No one mentioned the ‘c’ word.

  21. rcamilleri says:

    If Dr Delia did not “need to have a conversation with you” then he might as well not enter public life and refrain from trying to become Opposition leader. Nationalist voters, beware.

  22. Albert Bonnici says:

    Is it so difficult for you to understand the implications of all this?

  23. What, the power of attorney or the loan?

  24. Precisely 11 days. The company was incorporated on 9 March 2006 and the loan went through on 20 March. They bought the Mgarr Bay Hotel that same day.

  25. It obviously failed. And then the bank came calling for its 7 million euros plus interest.

  26. It’s part of the creation of the nonchalant image: on holiday with a leadership election and a constitution of debt for 7.2 million signed a couple of weeks ago.

    And then he says that he doesn’t have Frank Portelli’s mentality.

    I knew a businessman who threw himself off Mosta bridge a few years ago with a debt far smaller than theirs.

  27. Any woman who signs on a 12-million-euro bank loan for her husband and then gives him a full and general power of attorney four weeks later which removes her ability to influence what happens to the money is a submissive pushover. I chose my words carefully, because really, the proper words to use here are crazy and irresponsible.

    And now look what happened: Nickie Vella de Fremeaux, because she did what her husband wanted her to do, has to wake up every day – following that constitution of debt which the bank forced him to sign – wondering today is the day when the judicial act will arrive demanding 7.2 million euros plus interest from her personally.

  28. Yes, and a really, but really, bad example to her daughters.

  29. You know, Chris, there’s a great maxim in economic theory which begins ‘All things being equal…’

    Economies have cycles, whoever is in government.

  30. It is a list of facts, Mr Borg.

  31. Evaristsammut says:

    You are entitled to your opinion but I would widen the scope of your research beyond the spin on this page before you make any conclusions. Follow what the man is saying and compare him to the other contenders.

  32. You are too closely involved with him at a personal level to be thinking straight.

    • Evaristsammut says:

      In truth I have never met the man, but I intend to since I see him as the only leader who can give the PN the renaissance it desperately needs.

  33. I know them well enough to say that they would not allow that to happen. Her mother is still alive and working, so Dr Vella de Fremeaux has no actual interest herself. I think it’s safe to say that they have no idea she gave him a power of attorney or that she is liable for millions in debt. They are very astute people who would regard that as dangerous folly.

  34. Lucrezia Borgia says:

    He is still a dark horse to me. Said doesn’t really do it for me either. At this juncture I am only voting to keep Delia out. Hopefully by the actual time of voting I would have made an informed decision.

  35. It’s actually worse than that. He wanted her power of attorney to acquire liabilities – and if you check Malta Today, today, you’ll see that he acquired a great number of liabilities after getting that power of attorney.

  36. I don’t think you understand. It is NOT a loan, but a DEBT.

    And no, it is not “amply secured”, which is why the bank is worried.

  37. Rosie says:

    Thinking independently, would you lend money to a person who as security offers a developed plot of land not the property built on it with half the developed property belonging to third parties ?

  38. Spock says:

    I’m not even sure of that.

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