Police were told Fenech had dirt on Macbridge, secret company with China connection

Secret Dubai company Macbridge, or ‘Malta And China Bridge’, is secret conduit for money from government-financed projects

Ready for business: the Muscat administration’s deep ties to Chinese business interests, photographed here after the sale of a stake in Enemalta to Shanghai Power Electric, were revealed in the Egrant report by a proposal for a Malta-China company that would be controlled by a secret offshore company in the BVI. The mysterious Macbridge, police investigators believe, stands for ‘Malta And China Bridge’
Ready for business: the Muscat administration’s deep ties to Chinese business interests, photographed here after the sale of a stake in Enemalta to Shanghai Power Electric, were revealed in the Egrant report by a proposal for a Malta-China company that would be controlled by a secret offshore company in the BVI. The mysterious Macbridge, police investigators believe, stands for ‘Malta And China Bridge’

The secret offshore company Macbridge was acting as another conduit for moneys from government-financed projects, the Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech told police when arrested in November 2019.

Fenech, accused of being the mastermind in the Caruana Galizia assassination, told police he was ready to reveal details of the mysterious Macbridge company, which along with his own 17 Black, was to serve as the “main target clients” from whom banks could expect payments to flow into Keith Schembri’s and Konrad Mizzi’s secret Panama companies Tillgate and Hearnville.

He said he knew the reason it was set up, as well as the ownership of the company.

MaltaToday was told that police investigators understand that Macbridge is an acronym that stands for ‘Malta And China Bridge’, a fact that could tie in into the Muscat administration’s deep ties with the Chinese on energy matters.

Indeed, the Egrant inquiry report had brought to light an entity that was to be controlled by a secret company in the British Virgin Islands, to run a public-private partnership called “MACHIN Project” – an entity for the promotion of China-Malta investment.

The project was discovered in emails from 2014 between Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, in relation to an email from Cheng Chen of Shanghai Electric Power, which owns a large chunk of Enemalta.

In Chen’s redacted email cited in the report, he speaks about a meeting with Mizzi, Schembri and Nexia BT’s boss Brian Tonna “to finalise [a] business model (…) energy-related topics, real estate, tourism (…)meeting with Maltese experts to understand the potential as off-shore investment hub for Chinese (…).

The plan was to use the MACHIN project as the Maltese government’s representative investment promotion agency in China, as well as an emigration agency setup in China.

And further communication showed that “the cooperative mechanism shall be set with a certain person named Sai” – possibly Sai Mizzi Liang, Konrad Mizzi’s wife. Mizzi has previously said that his wife was never approached to work on the discarded proposal.

The report identifies Chen as a client of Nexia BT, who is himself the owner of a BVI company called Torbridge Services Inc set up by Nexia BT, which had opened a bank account in the shuttered Pilatus Bank.

MaltaToday last week reported one witness saying that ministers were faced with a catch-22 on what to do with the suggestion that Fenech held the key to greater corruption cases, if he was granted a pardon. “The corruption being alleged hit right at the heart of Muscat’s administration. At that point, there was no clear idea of what kind of corruption Fenech was alleging and how far it went. Pardoning Fenech days after he had been arrested was unthinkable, and outside the rage in the streets was palpable. To some people inside Cabinet, it would have meant opening a Pandora’s box to bring down the government.”

The Labour government is still plagued by Joseph Muscat’s insistence to retain Keith Schembri by his side when his chief of staff had to admit knowledge of the secret company 17 Black and Macbridge, as “potential clients” for his business group. He never named the owners, and insisted the Dubai companies never became clients of his business group.

Revelations on Macbridge were not mentioned by the police to the cabinet meeting held on 28 November of last year. Fenech’s request was made in the presence of his lawyer, the former Commissioner of Police Lawrence Cutajar, deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia, and police inspectors Keith Arnaud and Keith Zahra.

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