The Prime Minister on Monday denied failing to declare a property he bought in Xewkija and insisted he paid for it via a cheque and "not a cent in cash".

Robert Abela was reacting to a story published on The Shift News on Sunday. According to The Shift, he refused to explain a €180,000 discrepancy in his personal wealth declarations presented to parliament last year after he failed to declare a plot of land bought in Xewkija in 2022.

The Shift also said the €180,000 he forked out to buy the land was not reflected in his 2022 declaration of assets. On the contrary, it appears his income increased from the previous year, without having sold any other property he owns and without having declared any new source of income except his prime ministerial salary.

Former book council chair Mark Camilleri had originally published a series of blog posts in November saying Abela bought more than €300,000 worth of land in Gozo "with undeclared capital" and that he paid for them through his wife's BOV bank account.

Abela did declare he owns a property in Xewkija in both the 2021 and 2022 declarations of assets. However, The Shift claimed it was referring to a separate property.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Fielding Times of Malta questions on Monday, Abela insisted it was the same property bought through several contracts.

"It is the same property that was bought through several contracts - one property next to another - this was declared most clearly," he said.

"What I declared was in complete conformity with the declaration of assets rules. I paid for it via cheque and I did not pay a cent in cash."

Every year, MPs are bound to divulge their financial assets – from the properties they own to the bank loans they hold.

Earlier on Monday, independent candidate Arnold Cassola asked the Standards Commissioner to investigate Abela over the news story.

"Since the Prime Minister is not gifted with the magical talents of Houdini, it would be wise for him to explain to the Maltese taxpayer the origins of his 'unexplained wealth'."

Abela hit out at Cassola, saying he was pulling one of his usual acts of devaluing the seriousness of the Standards Commissioner's office.

Cassola's report is "baseless and unfounded", Abela said.

"The irony is that Cassola dreams up these complaints against me and my colleagues every week, and then, when the Commissioner decides to throw away his complaint, he complains that I am controlling the Commissioner."

In both his 2021 and 2022 declarations, Abela declared three properties: an apartment in Marsascala and properties in Żejtun and Xewkija.

He also holds over €388,000 in savings split across five accounts in three local banks.

Abela’s portfolio of financial holdings grew significantly from 2021 to 2022, gaining additional government shares worth €20,000. He continues to hold stakes in Hili Properties plc and HSBC Bank Malta.

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