Watch: Delia satisfied with due diligence process as he submits leadership bid

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Embattled Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia declared himself satisfied with the due diligence exercise carried out by his party as he formally presented his bid to contest next month’s party leadership election on Friday afternoon.

Delia was accompanied by deputy leader Robert Arrigo as he presented his bid to the head of the party’s electoral commission, Peter Fenech.

In a meeting held on Thursday evening, the party’s executive committee confirmed that the leadership election will take place on October 3, formally calling for a general convention of the party on that day. Early voting will, however, start in the coming day.s

Report authors emphasise inherent limitations

The authors of the report – which cleared both Delia and Bernard Grech – acknowledged the inherent limitations of their effort, not least because it had no authority to request documents from official bodies, and thus had to rely on information provided by the PN’s internal organs or by the candidates themselves. They also lacked resources to engage other professionals or employ assistants to help, and noted that a six-week period was inadequate in many circumstances.

But at a press conference held after he formally submitted his bid – Grech had done so earlier in the week – Delia insisted that he was satisfied with the exercise.

The report expressed concern on a number of allegations concerning Delia – not least that he continued to communicate with Yorgen Fenech after it was revealed that the businessman owned Emirati company 17 Black, which leaked emails indicate would have funnelled funds to offshore structures set up by Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri. But the PN leader emphasised that while the due diligence report’s authors referred to the allegations and remarked that they would undermine him if proven, they also found no evidence of any wrongdoing.

“I can mudsling as much as I can, and if I do so, some of it will stick. But if we are being serious about things, nothing was found, only ‘ifs’,” Delia maintained. He also highlighted that he had appealed for anyone to come forward if they had any evidence to substantiate the claims, but no one did so.

Delia pledges to continue addressing party finances

At the press conference, Delia highlighted three main priorities, and began with the state of the party’s finances. He insisted that under his leadership, the situation had improved dramatically.

He said that instead of being constrained to sell its clubs (każini), the party was managing to commercialise them successfully, with revenue increasing tenfold from the €19,000 recorded three years ago. He added that the aim was to achieve €250,000 in revenue from the party clubs next year, and €400,000 within 3-4 years.

Delia added that the party’s subsidies to its media wing have been slashed from €1.5 million a year to some €440,000, and that it was set to break even next year.

The PN leader also noted that party membership had increased from 19,000 to 26,000 over the past three years, and that the party was aiming to break the 30,000 mark and become Malta’s largest political party.

PN leader asks for disciplinary action against youth wing to cease

In his remarks, Delia also elaborated on his efforts to strengthen the party’s structures, mentioning the 14 “clusters” grouping together MPs, party activists and other stakeholders to focus on various issues. He pledged to double the number of clusters in the coming weeks if re-elected.

As he mentioned the strengthening of its disciplinary arm, the PN leader referred to the controversial decision to initiate disciplinary proceedings against its own youth wing, the MŻPN, which had called for Delia to be replaced. Sources had told that this action was instigated at Delia’s request, but the PN leader now insisted that given the circumstances in which the remarks were made, the young party activists should not be disciplined.