Yorgen Fenech, the main suspect in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination, was planning to replicate his controversial Electrogas project in Bangladesh prior to her murder, lawyer Jason Azzopardi has suggested.
At the end of what turned out to be a tame sitting with Energy Minister Michael Farrugia in the public inquiry looking into the journalist’s assassination, Azzopardi asked point-blank whether he came across the plans at any point in his nine-month tenure.
Farrugia said he had not, given that the plans could likely predate his tenure, as Azzopardi had suggested. Azzopardi hinted that Electrogas was pushing for the deal sometime in 2017. Caruana Galizia was murdered on 16th October 2017.
Fenech 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 the Electrogas project, which could have defaulted on a €600 million loan if corruption allegations were proven correct, was the main motive behind her assassination.
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.
Meanwhile, Caruana Galizia herself honed in on the fact that the Maltese government had guaranteed a €360 million loan taken out by Electrogas Malta.
It’s since been revealed that there was even a €28,000 party to celebrate the loan extension at Level 22, the club on the top floor of Fenech’s Portomaso Tower.
The 138-person guest list was filled with illustrious figures, including former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his wife Michelle, Charlene Farrugia Bianco and Neville Gafa.
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.
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