Yorgen Fenech and the Castille gang

Is it not strange that at least ten persons working in Castille during Joseph Muscat’s stint as Prime Minister have had connections of varying type with Yorgen Fenech and/or his cronies

Yorgen Fenech
Yorgen Fenech

One question many in Malta ask is: how did Yorgen Fenech amass so much power in the space of these last few years? It would seem that the reason behind such a fast-tracked rise to power is linked to his having literally occupied the corridors of political power, those of Castille.

To date, at least ten persons based in Castille have been identified as having had some sort of relationship with Yorgen Fenech or his henchmen. Of course, Yorgen and his Electrogas partners, Gasan and Apap Bologna, had already prepared the groundwork on their grand project before the March 2013 elections. So, as soon as Muscat’s PL got into power, the grand scheme concocted at the expense of the Maltese taxpayer and, later, at the cost of Daphne’s life was put into practice.

On 11 April 2013, Enemalta, headed by the PL apparatchik Frederick Azzopardi, published a call for Expressions of Interest and Capability (EoIC) for the supply and delivery of natural gas and electricity. Following the shortlisting of candidates, Enemalta issued a Request for Proposals (RfP) on 6 July 2013. On 12 October 2013, the ElectroGas Malta Consortium was selected as the preferred bidder.

At this stage, Fenech started frequenting the Castille corridors with astounding assiduity. On 16 October, Yorgen Fenech had his first officially registered meeting in Castille with Minister Konrad Mizzi. Twelve days later, he met Keith Schembri in Castille. Between 31 October and 3 December, Yorgen had another five meetings with Konrad Mizzi.

Having obtained the Electrogas deal that was to skin the Maltese taxpayer to the bone was not enough to quench the insatiable greed of the Tumas-Gasan Consortium. Between 25 November 2013 and 24 January 2014, the government launched a public consultation on the Planning Policy Guide on the Use and Applicability of the Floor Area Ratio (FAR). This is the policy which specifies which zones may have high-rise buildings (those over 10 storeys) built upon them. The draft of the document presented for public consultation did not include Mriehel as an appropriate area for high rise buildings.

Yorgen Fenech, who in the new year of 2014 had already met in Castille Konrad Mizzi twice and Keith Schembri once, decided to go and visit parliamentary secretary for planning Michael Farrugia, always at Castille, on 5 March 2014. It was a short meeting that lasted only 26 minutes, between 9:27am and 9:53am. A few hours later, if not minutes, the parliamentary secretary responsible for planning sent a letter to the CEO of the Planning Authority, Johann Buttigieg, requesting the locality of Mriehel to be inserted in the policy as an appropriate one for high-rise buildings.

All this was done two months after the closing date of the public consultation and the letter was not made public at the time, so the public had no idea that Mriehel would be included in the policy. Two and a half months later, on 24 May 2014, the Planning Policy Guide on the Use and Applicability of the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) was approved… with the inclusion of Mriehel as an appropriate area for high rise buildings.

The public outcry was extremely loud, and the general public were not the only ones to sound their voice. In fact, on 25 June 2014 the Planning Ombudsman, architect David Pace, criticised the inclusion of Mriehel in the FAR Policy, stating that it had been done by stealth and without allowing the public to make representations regarding the same.

In the meantime, in this March-June 2014 period, Yorgen Fenech had had another eight meetings with Konrad Mizzi and three with Keith Schembri, always in Castille. Mriehel was a mission half accomplished. Until it was fully accomplished, energy was dedicated to the Electrogas scam: on 9 May 2014 the Electrogas Contract was signed; in mid-2014 government’s involvement in assisting Electrogas to secure financing for the project first emerged, when it became evident that to obtain funding, the Security of Supply Agreement (SSA) whereby the government would assume Enemalta’s role in the supply agreements in particular circumstances, was to be in effect.

Keith Schembri
Keith Schembri

Until the European Commission’s clearance of the SSA in terms of state aid, government consented to provide a guarantee to assist Electrogas. Government guarantees were entered into with respect to the €110,000,000 bridge loan facility, later revised to €450 million.

Having wrangled the government guarantee of nearly half a billion euro for Electrogas, Yorgen Fenech again turned his attention to the Mriehel high-rise swindle. A meeting was held in Castille with Konrad Mizzi on 28 July. On 16 September 2014, Tumas Gasan Holdings filed an application PA 581/16 for four high-rise skyscrapers – the Quad Towers. On 4 August 2016, the Planning Board of the Planning Authority approved PA581/16. Second mission fully accomplished for Yorgen. On 28 October, Yorgen had another meeting with Konrad Mizzi.

A few weeks later, in December 2014, Yorgen Fenech showed his “generosity” when he gave Prime Minister Joseph Muscat a Bulgari watch estimated to cost some €20,000. And, in January 2015, Yorgen Fenech had his final official meeting at Castille with Konrad Mizzi.

The scandalous dealings of the Electrogas deal were denounced by many. On 30 July 2015 the National Audit Office (NAO) was requested to investigate the process leading to the award and the contracts entered into by Electrogas with government and Enemalta.

In its report, finalised in 2018, the NAO pointed out inconsistencies: different measures had been applied for different project bidders. The NAO raised concerns about how the government had agreed to buy 85 per cent of the Electrogas production, whatever the cost, for 18 years, even though energy could be sourced at a cheaper rate elsewhere. The end result was that the Maltese taxpayer was buying gas at double the cost, from Socar via Shell, instead of directly from Shell, thus leaving enormous profit margins for Electrogas.

In the meantime, a third source of income from Muscat’s government for Yorgen’s Tumas associates was the rental of a private aircraft. In fact, in the period March 2013-May 2016 Joseph Muscat spent nearly €1.2 million on private jet trips, utilizing two companies, one of which, Euro Jet, belongs to the Tumas Group.

Yorgen’s official visits to Castille were practically now over. He only met with Lyndsey Gambin on 24 March 2017 for just under an hour and a half. The subject of this meeting is unknown. However, unofficial meetings with Castille personnel were still to happen. Yorgen Fenech got to know Charlene Bianco Farrugia, who was the personal assistant of Keith Schembri. In May 2018, Fenech travelled to Las Vegas with Bianco Farrugia. Yorgen’s WhatsApp messages seem to indicate that there were other meetings between the two.

Yorgen Fenech also became acquainted with the Hon. Rosianne Cutajar, whose office as Commissioner for the Simplification and Reduction of Bureaucracy was also based in Castille. In 2018 Cutajar is alleged to have acted as an estate broker for Yorgen Fenech.

Whatsapp messages on Yorgen’s mobile phone seem to indicate further connections between the two.

While Yorgen was having these informal meetings with Castille personnel, he was still keeping contact with Joseph Muscat and family. On 3 October 2017 Yorgen Fenech stated that he received a request to help the foundation of the Prime Minister’s wife, Marigold Foundation, and he therefore asked his employees to keep this in mind for the following year.

On 8 February 2018, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was the guest of honour at a party held at Level 22 in Portomaso belonging to Tumas Group – Yorgen Fenech’s family company – to celebrate the successful refinancing, through a government guarantee, of the Electrogas power station project.

In the meantime, in the January 2017-January 2019 period, Muscat spent another half a million euros on private jet trips, utilizing two companies, one of which, Euro Jet, belongs to the Tumas Group. In February 2019 Yorgen Fenech was one of Joseph Muscat’s guests at his “Ma taghmlu xejn” birthday party held at the Prime Minister’s Girgenti residence, and he gifted Muscat fine Petrus wine worth thousands of euros.

The Prime Minister, Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech continued to regularly exchange WhatsApp texts of a friendly nature. They definitely talked about wine and food; we are not sure if they talked about women. Strangely enough, it seems they never discussed a usually popular topic: football. Whatever else they discussed can only be ascertained when the contents of the WhatsApp messages are made public.

But the most serious Castille connections linked to Yorgen Fenech concern his middleman/henchman, Melvin Theuma. The middleman in Daphne’s assassination met Keith Schembri in Castille. The latter fixed Yorgen’s man with a job. Then the person who materially gave Theuma the job was Sandro Craus, another Castille person of trust. And the middleman between the middleman and the actual alleged material assassins was none other than Kenneth Camilleri, another person of trust working at Castille with Joseph Muscat, Kenneth Camilleri.

Camilleri is a close friend and a colleague of another ex-Castille person of trust, Neville Gafà, who used to write some quite colourful posts about Daphne Caruana Galizia on his Facebook.

The question that comes naturally is: “Is it not strange that at least ten persons working in Castille during Joseph Muscat’s stint as Prime Minister have had connections of varying type with Yorgen Fenech and/or his cronies”?