Watch: Grech apologises for tax debacle, but questions timing of leak

MESSAĠĠ MINN BERNARD GRECH

Dejjem emmint li fil-politika hemm riga ogħla. Dan hu dak li rrid inwettaq jien.

Posted by Bernard Grech on Monday, September 7, 2020

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

PN leadership hopeful Bernard Grech apologised for allowing his tax affairs to get out of hand, but questioned the timing of the leak of information about them to the press.

MaltaToday and the Times of Malta both reported on Sunday that Grech needed to settle years of unpaid income tax and VAT, with the family lawyer eventually paying off his outstanding dues in the summer.

But in a short video message on his Facebook page, Grech noted that this information surfaced on the same day in which MaltaToday published its latest edition of the trust barometer, showing that the gap between Grech and Prime Minister Robert Abela is less than half that of embattled PN leader Delia and the PM.

“We can understand why this came out in public now; because the party in government is seriously concerned about the positive surveys that fill us with courage,” Grech insisted. He said that the Labour Party was not happy to see him contest the party leadership, to see PN supporters gain hope, and to “see that the PN can be strengthened once more and become a strong opposition and an alternative government.”

He insisted that the issue would not stop but strengthen him.

“There will be attacks – they will even invent attacks – but together we know that we may win,” he said.

‘I do not owe a single cent’

Grech said that he was aware that many were concerned about the stories, and said that he too was concerned and perplexed.

“I admit I could have been more careful to ensure that this situation is avoided,” he maintained. “I understand that as a politician, I have to be much better than this. I believe that politicians should be held to a higher standard, and I am ready to be judged by one too.”

He added that he renounced his right to contest the penalties and interest due and seek a reduction so that the situation could be sorted before the leadership race began.

“I can say, as my certificate of compliance shows, that I do not owe a single cent to the Commissioner for Revenue.”

According to documents published by MaltaToday, Grech owed some €33,684 in unpaid income taxes, dating back to the years 1999-2011. He also owed thousands of euros in VAT for the years 2014-2019.

Quoting sources, the Times said that Grech had adjusted upwards his declared income for 2016, 2017 and 2019.