PN MP Karol Aquilina and lawyer Giannella de Marco in bitter exchange

Karol Aquilina tells Giannella de Marco he will not be intimidated as she accuses him of suppressing human rights during a bitter exchange at the Electrogas hearing in parliament

Giannella de Marco and Karol Aquilina sparred during a session of the PAC in which Electrogas shareholder Paul Apap Bologna testified
Giannella de Marco and Karol Aquilina sparred during a session of the PAC in which Electrogas shareholder Paul Apap Bologna testified

Karol Aquilina and lawyer Giannella de Marco exchanged bitter words in parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday as the probe into the Electrogas contract continued.

The Nationalist MP insisted that he will not be intimidated by de Marco as she protested at Aquilina’s questioning style when trying to tease answers out of her client Paul Apap Bologna.

Apap Bologna is a shareholder in Electrogas and has been appearing in front of the committee that is following up on the National Audit Office report on the gas power station tender.

This was not the first time that Aquilina and de Marco, who is the sister of Nationalist MP Mario de Marco, sparred over questions posed to Apap Bologna.

The latest exchange happened towards the end of today’s meeting when Aquilina asked Apap Bologna whether he had any relations with Socar, the Azerbaijani energy company involved in Electrogas.

Apap Bologna insisted he had no relations with Socar but Aquilina quickly followed up the question with another one asking whether he had ever brokered "something" with the Azerbaijani company.

At this point, de Marco interjected, insisting she will not allow Aquilina to use the forum as a political platform at the expense of her client.

Aquilina insisted he will not allow the lawyer to intimidate him. The following exchange ensued as committee chair Beppe Fenech Adami meekly attempted to stop Aquilina and get the meeting back on track.


Karol Aquilina (KA): You will not intimidate us? You will not bother me or intimidate me?

Giannella de Marco (GDM): I am not here to intimidate anyone. I am here to protect my client’s rights… If Mr Aquilina has no appreciation for human rights than he has no right being here.

KA: You do not determine who stands here. People do [in elections].


GDM: I am concerned about human rights... this committee is bound by them as well

KA: I am not paid by criminals...

GDM: You should be ashamed of yourself… continue to suppress human rights… [turns to her client] I give you advice not to answer any questions made to you by Dr Aquilina.

Beppe Fenech Adami: Can we avoid these exchanges. Can the witness answer the question?

KA: What did you broker with SOCAR?

PAB: I choose not to answer.

KA: Can you indicate the dates when you held meetings with SOCAR over the years?

GDM: The advice of his lawyer is not to answer because the questions go beyond the remit of this committee and only intended to serve a political purpose as decreed by the courts

Contract replete with mistakes

Earlier, Apap Bologna was unable to explain inconsistencies between his explanation and a contract the Maltese shareholders had with Yorgen Fenech to pay him €2.5 million.

The contract was signed in June 2014 in which the Maltese shareholders in Electrogas - Gasan, Tumas and Apap Bologna - agreed to pay Yorgen Fenech’s company, New Energy Supply, €2.5 million for taking the lead on the gas project.

Apap Bologna insisted that the Maltese partners paid Fenech €1 million for his services but was unable to explain several mistakes in the contract that were pointed out to him by the Nationalist MPs on the PAC.

Apap Bologna refuted any sinister motive but repeated several times that he was not involved in the drafting of the contract despite having been a signatory.


Beppe Fenech Adami (BFA): Can you explain clause 2.1 in the contract, which states that GEM ‘hereby agrees to provide the project services’ when the contract is supposed to say that GEM engaged New Energy Services [Yorgen Fenech’s company] to provide these services?

Giannella de Marco (GDM): He already answered that he did not draft the contract which was drafted by accountants and is one of two back-to-back contracts. Ask these questions to those who drafted the contract.

Paul Apap Bologna (PAB): I have no more answers to your questions. We agreed between us that NES would carry out all the work listed in the project agreement of 2013 and it would be paid for its services. In principle, this contract [the 2014 contract between GEM and NES] does what we set out to achieve.

BFA: Was this a mistake or done on purpose? Clause 2.1 says one thing and you are saying another thing.

PAB: GEM engaged NES to give its services. That is what happened and I will not comment on the contract.

Karol Aquilina (KA): This is a fake contract. This was done afterwards to justify other things… To justify the millions passed on to Yorgen Fenech you invented a contract like this that was done in haste and is replete with mistakes.

PAB: I will not accept these accusations that this is a false document… you are trying to put words in my mouth.

The PAC meeting was adjourned and Apap Bologna is expected to be summoned again to testify in another sitting.

The NAO report released in 2018 said there was “significant concern” over the due diligence in the gas power station tender.

Although the NAO said it found no evidence that the project was a done deal, it noted that a last-minute inclusion of a Security of Supply agreement “significantly reduced” risk for the final two bidders.

It also said that the bank guarantee provided by the government to Electrogas was irregular in terms of the guidelines applicable at the time and interconnector prices were far cheaper than those from the Electrogas power plant.

Read about Apap Bologna's previous appearances at the PAC: