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GSD pushes for details of Victoria Keys project, pledges transparency

The GSD has vowed to make public the full terms of the deals entered into by the current GSLP/Liberal administration over the Victoria Keys development should it be elected into government at the next general election.

The party also said it would review the arrangements over the development, adding that if any aspect of it was not in the public interest, it would seek to reopen the commercial arrangements or development scheme.

The GSD said this commitment was necessary because there are questions in relation to the proposed Victoria Keys Development that the “Government are sweeping under the carpet”.

“These questions will not go away,” it added, insisting that any potential “serious conflicts of interest” must be “scrutinised and allayed”.

“The Government are going to commit taxpayer’s monies to fund the reclamation, thereby reducing the economic risk to developers,” the party said in a statement.

“It is unclear how much the reclamation will cost and how much of the £300 million that the Government borrowed against housing estates is to be used, together with to whom the Government will be allocating some of the plots of land.”

GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: “It is ironic that the money to finance a luxury development is being found by mortgaging housing estates.”

“As we have said previously, this is like Robin Hood in reverse – taking from the poorer to give to the rich.”

“There are serious questions of financial transparency as to the use of public monies and as to the effect on the environment also.”

The GSD underscored that the terms of the financing deal need to be published.

It added that if the Gibraltar Government has taken a policy decision to use public monies to fund the reclamation for a “select consortium of private developers”, then such a project should have been put out to competitive tender “…instead of simply agreeing deals privately with a select and privileged group of developers.”

The party again called on the Government to reveal who the developers are.

“The precise identity of the developers is unclear,” the GSD said.

“In a Viewpoint programme the Chief Minister mentioned some names but this did not accord with the publicly declared shareholding of the developer company, Harbour Development Limited [HDL].”

“In that same programme the Chief Minister stated that some of these developers were not the same as those who held development rights over Coaling Island prior to 2011.”

“Who are these new investors? HDL was not incorporated before 2016 and the shareholder company did not itself exist before 2017.”

The GSD added that if the Government is using taxpayers’ monies to help a few developers it should handle matters “…transparently, competitively and [should] reassure the public that there are no serious conflicts of interest”.

According to the GSD, two of the four directors of HDL have links with government ministers.

“One of them is the brother of Minister for Financial Services, Albert Isola,” the party said.

“Another is a partner in the Hassans law firm with no obvious track record in development. The Chief Minister continues to hold declared interests in companies associated with Hassans or investments arising from the capital in the Hassans legal partnership.”

The party said that against this backdrop, taxpayers should have reassurance that there are no conflicts of interest arising from the project.

“This is why the GSD will make all the Victoria Keys arrangements public if elected to Government, would seek to reopen these in the public interest, as necessary, and would ensure that the future award of public contracts is done transparently and against a set of tough and revised conflicts of interests rules,” the party said.