Electrogas’ bank balance shrunk from €450 million To just €100,000 by February 2017, Matthew Caruana Galizia has revealed.
“It bled half a billion euros in three years. It couldn’t even pay its employees. Or even a cup of coffee, because one of its creditors garnisheed its bank account. It wasn’t generating electricity. SOCAR was invoicing it for millions of euros,” Caruana Galizia wrote on social media.
By the end of the year, and after Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, the government’s €360 million guaranteed loan to Electrogas was extended.
Email exchanges and other documents published by Caruana Galizia have revealed that key players in former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s administration did all they could to ensure Electrogas do not default on their loan, which would have been disastrous for the government.
Malta’s Minister of Finance, newly appointed Attorney General, and disgraced former Minister Konrad Mizzi all played a key role.
The loan extension was only granted through a controversial Security of Supply Agreement. It’s been revealed that Mizzi’s signature was powerful enough to bypass parliament and cabinet.
A lavish €28,000 party at Level 22, the club on the top floor of Yorgen Fenech’s Portomaso Tower, was thrown to celebrate the extension.
“What do we have to show for that? A murder, dependency on fossil fuels, and corrupt deals that bind us for a lifetime to pay the people responsible for the murder.
Robert Abela: what’s stopping you from tearing up those corrupt deals?” Caruana Galizia said.
Yorgen Fenech, the main suspect, is a key shareholder in the Electrogas project and in the months leading up to her murder, Caruana Galizia had come into possession of a major Electrogas leak consisting of over 200,000 documents.
Her son Matthew, who worked on the project with Daphne, has claimed that Electrogas defaulting on the loan could be a motive behind the murder. During the same period, Electrogas was also eyeing a project in Bangladesh, according to parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi.
The Electrogas consortium was selected to build and operate the LNG power station in Delimara back in October 2013, with a deal eventually signed in April 2015.
Azeri state energy company Socar, who is a shareholder in Electrogas, purchases gas from standard suppliers like Shell and resells the stock at a benchmarked value to Electrogas, which transports the gas in liquid form and held in a tanker nestled in Delimara Bay.
It is then converted to energy and distributed among homes in Malta.
The 18-year deal has long raised eyebrows, with Malta often paying a higher rate than most European counterparts, all while analysis indicates that Socar made close to €32 million in 2017 alone.
State witness Melvin Theuma claimed that Fenech once said that Caruana Galizia’s murder was the last thing he needed to do to close the Electrogas chapter.
The deal has long been potentially linked to Fenech’s 17 Black, the Dubai company named as the “target client” for the Panama companies belonging to former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.
A report by the FIAU found that 17 Black had received at least three payments – one of €161,000 from Maltese local agent for the tanker supplying gas to the LNG power station and two separate payments amounting to €1.1 million from Baratzada through ABLV Bank.
ABLV was recently raised in one of Latvia’s most extensive investigations into money laundering yet.
More recently, 17 Black was found to be at the centre of a dubious deal involving the purchase of a Montenegro wind farm by Malta’s state-owned Enemalta plc.
Recent reports by Reuters and Times of Malta uncovered that the Maltese government had agreed to pay out €10.3 million for a Montenegro wind farm that had just been bought for €2.9 million two weeks prior.
According to Reuters and the Daphne Caruana Galizia foundation, the other company linked to deal, Cifidex, is connected to Turab Musayev, a former Electrogas director.
Musayev has denied any wrongdoing and has said he had no reason to suspect Fenechs involvement in Caruana Galizia’s murder. He said Cifidex had its own independent management and that his business with Fenech involved due diligence from reputable and established bankers, accountants and lawyers.
What do you think of the claims? Comment below