After Abela became Prime Minister, the Planning Authority opted for an in-house lawyer

No tenders were issued for the Planning Authority’s legal services after Robert Abela’s law firm stepped down when he became Prime Minister in January 2020.

The workload is now managed “by a full-time internal lawyer,” confirmed a spokesperson for the AP.

In June 2020, the authority posted a public vacancy to recruit someone “to provide legal advice to the executive chairman and management on planning and other matters.”

Subsequently, lawyer Melanie Sammut, former associate of Filetti & Filetti Advocates, was appointed deputy director of legal services at the Authority.

At that time, a Palestinian Authority spokesperson told MaltaToday that a public tender for legal services was in the works, but no tender has ever been made. been published. The Palestinian Authority has now returned to having its own full-time lawyer.

Roberta Abela’s law firm, Abela Advocates, stepped down from the Palestinian Authority mandate when it became prime minister in January last year.

The lucrative contract was initially awarded to Abela’s father, George Abela, in 2001, when he was associated with town planning expert Ian Stafrace at Abela, Stafrace & Associates. Stafrace was then appointed to the Palestinian Authority as managing director under a nationalist administration.

The company has always been chosen by the PA to take over most of the legal work when the authority’s own head of legal services, Anthony De Gaetano, accused the authority of mismanaging a planning issue. national ownership, due to suspected political influence.

The AP paid Abela, Stafrace & Associates a total of € 1.23 million until 2011 for handling his workload when Stafrace was appointed CEO.

The firm had been handpicked after an expression of interest and the contract was extended until 2013, then renewed again for an amount of € 107,263 per year and € 54.99 for each hour of “extra work. “.

In 2017, Abela Advocates received € 110,000 for legal services offered to the planning authority. The law firm received € 168,000 in 2016, € 110,000 in 2015 and € 88,000 in 2014 in PA fees, awarded by direct order.

During the leadership campaign, Abela went back on her initial statement to MaltaToday that his wife and the family business should not be denied the opportunity to bid for a government job. Subsequently, Abela said he would aspire to higher ethical standards and insisted that his wife Lydia Abela, a partner at the family law firm, would not bid for a job in the public sector. The firm then renounced its mandate.

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Bernice Dyer

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