Yorgen Fenech, the main suspect in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, actively pursued legal action in the UK to challenge revelations that he was the owner of 17 Black, the infamous Dubai-based company linked to dodgy deals and the Panama Papers scandal.
Speaking in the public inquiry linked to the murder, ElectroGas shareholder Mark Gasan revealed that he was first approached with the claim by a journalist.
Fenech first opened a Dubai account for the 17 Black in June 2015. He was revealed as the owner by a Times of Malta report in November 2018, a year after Caruana Galizia’s murder.
Fenech vehemently denied the claims when he was confronted with the allegation in a meeting in November 2019, telling ElectroGas-linked GEM Holdings board that he would go to London and pursue legal avenues. The issue never went further.
“He never denied it publicly,” Gasan said.
It could be that Fenech was looking to pursue a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), which is a lawsuit intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with costly legal defences. In Malta, civil libel suits are capped to protect media houses. However, many simply pursue multi-million cases abroad, with the Maltese government reluctant to intervene.
Henley and Partners, the owner of the now-defunct Pilatus Bank, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, and Turab Musayev have pursued such actions against Maltese journalists, including Caruana Galizia.
17 Black has since been linked to major allegations of corruption in Malta.
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 ElectroGas power station and two separate payments amounting to €1.1 million from Baratzada through ABLV Bank by an unnamed Azeri national.
17 Black and Macbridge, the owner of which is still unknown, were listed as the target clients for Tillgate and Hearnville by December 2015. Leaked emails uncovered that Mizzi and Schembri’s companies would receive €150,000 a month (€2 million a year).
17 Black emerged in the news again recently after Times of Malta and Reuters revealed that Fenech’s company benefitted financially from the controversial Enemalta purchase of wind farms in Montenegro.
Cifidex initially purchased the wind farm, a company which Reuters said is owned by Azeri businessman and former ElectroGas director Turab Musayev for €2.9 million. A few weeks after, the Maltese government agreed to pay €10.3 million for the very same wind farm.
The €2.9 million which Cifidex used to pay for the wind farm were loaned to him by Yorgen Fenech, the man charged with journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder. Following the Maltese government’s purchase of the wind farm, Cifidex paid back his loan to Fenech alongside an extra €4.6 million – meaning that Fenech made a profit of €2.8 million.
Musayev has denied any wrongdoing and has said he had no reason to suspect Fenech had any 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 this development? Comment below