Delia’s team and supporters are putting it about that his wife is “rich” and that her mother will pay his large debts

Published: September 19, 2017 at 12:15pm

Faced with the now-incontrovertible facts – because he has published them himself – that the new leader of the Nationalist Party personally owes almost €1 million (above and beyond the €7.3 million which he owes, also personally, jointly and severally with others because of the failed real estate development at Mgarr in Gozo), and that he has been living off credit cards and overdrafts, his team of campaigners and supporters have adopted a new line of defence.

His wife is “rich”, they say. She will pay off her husband’s debts. (They say this as though it is normal and acceptable.) When it is pointed out to them that Mrs Delia is not rich at all, that in fact she has no money to speak of because she doesn’t work and is entirely financial dependent on her husband, they double-back and come up with a fresh line of defence.

“Dawk ta’ Miller Distributors, ta.” In their total ignorance of these matters, they think and speak as though audited businesses with a variety of shareholders are large pots of money which anybody can plunder at will to pay off the personal debts of various random members of the extended family.

I explain this to them, usually to no avail because they come from a culture alien to companies and regular businesses and inhabit a mysteriously secluded world where magic money trees grow in the back-gardens of ‘people in business’.

I carefully explain that Mrs Adrian Delia is not a shareholder in Miller Distributors, that her brother who works for the company is an employee on a salary like all the other employees, that it is her mother who is a shareholder as one of the four Miller siblings who are all shareholders, that it is therefore her mother, and not Mrs Delia and her brother, who is the recipient of any shareholder dividends, and that her mother is still very much alive and active.

“So his mother-in-law will pay his debts then!” the Delia campaigners and supporters say, causing me to shudder with awkwardness on their behalf. I then explain as tactfully as possible that nowhere in the real world do people pay their daughter’s husband’s debts, especially not when they are massive, when he has run them up under suspect circumstances, and when they have other children, themselves and their grandchildren to consider.

Even if Mrs Vella de Fremeaux has a few million euros going spare, which she most certainly does not – really, in what sort of dream world do people live, that they would think such a thing? – common sense tells you that she wouldn’t fritter them away to pay her daughter’s husband’s debts. She would, instead, be putting up a legal firewall around any future inheritance for her daughter to make sure that her son-in-law can’t get his hands on it, especially now that she knows her daughter has given him a full power of attorney.

It is terrible to have to discuss these things in public. I think it is such an intrusion and an invasion of privacy. But the new leader of the Nationalist Party and his campaigners and supporters should not be permitted, let alone encouraged, to put it about that either his wife or her parents will pay off his millions in debts so there is no need to worry about them.

This is an obscene excuse. There is a very real issue here: Delia is millions in debt, is living off credit cards and overdrafts by his own admission, has no assets he can sell to pay off his debts unless he’s planning to sell off the family home and move all seven of them into a cheap rented flat, and currently has no income at all because he is no longer working at the law firm.

To get the Opposition leader’s salary, he has to become Opposition leader, for which a seat is required in parliament. Even then, the salary is just €43,000 a year and his annual bank interest alone is €43,600 with €26,000 in annual school bills above that.

There are real issues here, and ignoring them or pretending that his mother-in-law is going to bail him out is simply not going to cut it. A lot of people really need to get their heads out of the sand. Bank debts do not go away and bills have to be paid. How is Adrian Delia going to pay them on €43,000 a year – which he won’t be getting anyway until he is sworn in as Opposition leader?

“I’ve encouraged my supporters to say that my mother-in-law will pay my debts. And it doesn’t even embarrass me.”