Government: TNG Global Foundation Is “Paying More Than Anyone Else”

The Government has replied to the questions raised by the GSD in relation to the sale of the sites of the old Bayside Comprehensive and St Anne’s Schools.

A statement set out the Government’s answers:  

The GSD ask ‘whether the Government were already in discussions with the individual who ultimately owns or controls TNG Global and the Bank when the “very generous donation” was made?’

The answer is that the donation was volunteered by Trusted Novus Bank, a company with the same ultimate beneficial owner as TNG Global BEFORE negotiations on the Bayside were being conducted.

The GSD ask ‘how and when was the donation paid?’

The answer is that the donation has not yet been paid, but it is anticipated that it will be paid by a cheque drawn on the Trusted Novus Bank’s own account or by transfer from Trusted Novus Bank to the Government General Account on the day – expected to be in late November – when the park is formally inaugurated.

The GSD have asked ‘if is there any link between the “donation” received by the Government to bail out the £3.7M cost of the Midtown Park and the deal announced yesterday?’

The Government’s answer is there is no link whatsoever between the donation by Trusted Novus Bank and the investment by the company owned by the same ultimate beneficial owner in the Bayside / St Anne’s site. The two are completely unconnected in any way as separate and distinct arrangements neither of which are dependent on the other or have any financial effect on the other.

The GSD have said that ‘inevitably there will also be questions as to how the land was allocated and the value for money of the deal and whether the Government was influenced in favour of the arrangements by the donation or took it into account directly or indirectly in the financial calculations or decision-making on the Bayside/St Anne’s deal.’

The answer is that the land was allocated as a result of an Expressions of Interest tender having allowed the Government to see what each interested party was prepared to pay. The offer from The TNG Global Foundation was BY FAR the highest offer for the land by a margin of many millions of pounds. This is a demonstration that the allocation of the land is BY FAR the best value for the taxpayer and that it was not in any way influenced by the donation and that the donation was not in any way taken into account directly or indirectly in the financial calculations or decision making on the Bayside/St Anne’s deal.

The GSD ask ‘what value will the developers get from the site?’

The answer is that the value for the developers will not be possible to determine until the Development and Planning Commission has granted outline planning for the proposals that the developer may submit and have approved for the site. The developer has already said that they very much look forward to now engaging with all the stake holders in the area as they begin their consultation in the preparation of their plans for the development of this scheme and its submission to the DPC and other relevant authorising bodies.

The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said: “The GSLP Liberal Government will, as always, be totally open and transparent – more so than every Government before in our history – as we happily answer all and any questions as the Opposition will ask when Parliament next meets. If it is true that the Opposition want there to be new schools built affordably and for there to be economic development that maximises value in the public interest, they will welcome this arm’s length transaction that will provide for the development of the schools and of the Bayside / St Anne’s plots as has long been planned. There is full transparency in respect of this deal and the best possible value to the taxpayer both in respect of the building of the schools and the sale of the land in question which ensures that this is an unimpeachable deal to the highest bidder by far. All that is very much also in the public interest and what we can confirm. Anyone who has Gibraltar’s interests at heart will welcome the fact that The TNG Global Foundation is able to make these investments at this time, with the final Brexit deal still outstanding and the COVID 19 Pandemic still ongoing, and I look forward to doing more work with TNG on other areas for development and to announcements that the Government expects to be able to make very soon. We have worked very hard to make this deal a reality for our people and trust that the Opposition will accept that this is an excellent deal by any standards and in particular at this time.”

The Deputy Chief Minster, Dr Joseph Garcia, who has Ministerial responsibilities for lands said: “There could not be clearer and more transparent answers than those which the GSLP Liberal Government has given to the questions which the Opposition has raised in respect of whether there is a potential connection between the absolutely no strings attached donation in respect of the Midtown Park by Trusted Novus Bank and the brilliant schools deal for the building of the new Upper and Lower Primary schools at Europort Avenue. The GSLP Liberal Government has immediately provided totally full and entirely transparent replies so that there is no one who can legitimately come to any negative conclusion about any connection between both deals. Furthermore, all of the substance about the detail of what the old schools’ site will be used for will be ventilated and dealt with in public in the Development and Planning Commission, which should mean that the use of the land in future should not raise any questions and concerns, in particular for the people who live in the area – quite the opposite. In fact, people now know that with the GSLP Liberal Government there are no deals done behind closed doors for planning permission to be granted in secret, as was the case before we were elected in 2011.”