No one ever got poor through donating for charity – Paul Gauci

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Business mogul Paul Gauci donated an estimated market value of seven million euros worth of shares to five charitable foundations. For a man not given to speechifying, Gauci was pretty trite and direct in his comments to Newsbook.com.mt. “No one ever got poor by giving to charity,” said Gauci when asked about his munificent gift, larger even than the sum collected by L-Istrina. He described this gift as the result of his early morning musings. A lark, Gauci said that he did his best thinking early in the morning and he had been after making sizeable donations to charities he had in mind for some time. Then he hit on the idea of making these charitable institutions shareholders in the PG Group.

Mr Paul Gauci and Mrs Marlene Gauci (Photo: MIguela Xuereb)

Enter the ‘Devils’ Advocate’

Group CEO Charles Borg smiled, recalling when Paul Gauci first floated the idea with him. “The idea was sound but obviously it was my job to play the Devil’s Advocate to make sure that we leave no loophole”, said Borg to Newsbook.com.mt. The idea was tried and tested with two very substantial donations to Dar tal-Providenza and Caritas. As Borg explained, the beauty of the scheme is that the institutions are being “…given the tree, not just the fruit” and the shares will not only bring to the institutions a regular income, but they will also be assets on which the institution can make financial planning and commitment.

So, how does this donation affect the shareholding public given that the group is a publicly listed company? Charles Borg was quite clear in his reply: not at all. Paul Gauci is 75% shareholder in the group and the donation was made out of his personal shares, decreasing marginally his shareholding in the group. With such a large holding, the direction of the group will not be affected at all and the public shares will feel no repercussion.

And the beneficiaries were…

Mother Roberta (Photo: Miguela Xuereb)

Five institutions benefitted from Paul Gauci’s largesse: The Malta Trust Foundation, Dar Bjorn, Puttinu Cares, Ursoline Homes and Fondazzjoni Sebħ. Perhaps the most heartwarming comment was made by the Mother Superior of the Ursoline nuns, Sister Roberta. “As soon as he (Gauci) told me what he was going to do, I burst into tears and ran to the Chapel to thank God for His munificence,” said the elderly nun whose face is etched with the years of love and care she tendered her charges. The donations were made to predominantly child-oriented charities, which perhaps has something to do with the fact that the Gaucis have just become grandparents again.

Ms Yvonne Mallia said that Fondazzjoni Sebħ will be using the funds to support the care homes and shelters in its charge. President Emeritus Marie Louise Coleiro Preca similarly spoke of the plans which the Malta Trust Foundation has and which will be eased by this donation. She also made it clear that donors are also administrators in the trust so that they can evaluate how the money is being spent.