French prosecutor asked to probe banks that loaned money to Electrogas

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation and international campaign group Sherpa seek French probe into banks that loaned money to Malta gas power project carried out by Electrogas

Four French banks and an investment fund were part of a consortium that helped Electrogas finance Delimara gas power station and LNG terminal
Four French banks and an investment fund were part of a consortium that helped Electrogas finance Delimara gas power station and LNG terminal

The French prosecutor has been asked to investigate four French banks and an investment fund for complicity in corruption over a loan given to Electrogas.

The complaint is targeted against BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Natixis, CIC and Rivage Investment. It concerns a loan facility granted to Electrogas for the Malta gas power station project.

The complaint was filed by the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation and Sherpa, an association with a mission to fight impunity linked to globalisation.

The two NGOs asked the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office in France to open an investigation into money laundering and concealment of stolen goods in connection with a large loan given to Electrogas in November 2017.

The loan was granted a month after the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.  

A few months before the conclusion of the loan, Caruana Galizia had revealed that the power station contract would be tainted by corruption.

She had also received a large cache of leaked emails from the Electrogas servers and was working on them before the assassination.

An Electrogas shareholder and director, Yorgen Fenech of the Tumas Group, has been charged with masterminding the Caruana Galizia murder.

After the assassination, a Reuters investigation revealed how Fenech was the owner of 17 Black, a Dubai company that was a target client for the Panama companies belonging to then energy minister Konrad Mizzi and former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

The NGOs said that Fenech had confessed to police that the Electrogas contract was tainted by corruption.

“Despite the existence of these suspicions, despite the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017 in the course of her investigations about market conditions, the four French banks, through subsidiaries or branches, as well as the portfolio management company, granted a loan to Electrogas Malta Limited in November 2017,” the complaint read.

The organisations accused the French banks of failing to comply with their anti-money laundering obligations by not carrying out proper due diligence on Electrogas.

“In the case of the loan to Electrogas, a simple internet search would have allowed the banks to discover that the company's activity came from corruption. The FinCEN Files, like the Maltese case, demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the banks’ due diligence measures related to the risk of money laundering,” the organisations said.