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[September 01, 2014]
Running illegal hotel no reason to resign from Transport Malta Board - Ministry [Malta Independent, The]
(Malta Independent, The Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Transport Malta Board member Mark Sammut will retain his role as a public official, even after The Malta Independent on Sunday revealed that Dr Sammut is the co-owner of an illegal hotel operating in Bugibba.
As a follow-up, this newsroom asked the Transport Ministry whether Transport Minister Joe Mizzi will be demanding the illegal hotel owner's resignation from the TM board. "Mr Sammut's role as a Transport Malta board member does not conflict with his private practice. Thus, the Ministry would not see any justification for asking Dr Sammut to resign from his position," a Ministry spokesman said in reply to The Malta Independent on Sunday.
The 'hotel' Damiani has been operating in Bugibba for years without either a licence from the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) or a permit from Mepa to change the use of a block of flats into a hotel.
The owners of the 'hotel' even built an extra storey on top of the existing block as well as adding a roof pool to the property without a Mepa permit, and the building has never been certified by the MTA as being fit for tourist accommodation.
Another of the Damiani's co-owners is Pierre Lofaro, a lawyer married to now retired magistrate Abigail Lofaro. Dr Lofaro chairs the financial services tribunal, which functions as a court although it is separate and distinct from the Court of Justice.
Speaking to this newspaper last week, newly-appointed MTA CEO Paul Bugeja said legal action has been taken by the Authority against the operators of the Damiani and a court case is ongoing. He also said that the owners have filed an appeal with the Tourism Appeals' Board regarding the property and are awaiting a final ruling.
According to the Board's website, the appeal was to be heard over two months ago, on 26 June. No decision has yet been uploaded onto its website.
The Malta Independent on Sunday asked Mepa what action is to be taken against the Damiani's owner, but no reply has been forthcoming.
(c) 2013 Standard Publications Ltd. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).
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