[WATCH] PAC turns into show of hysterics as Mizzi defends Electrogas deal, mocks Fenech Adami ‘royal highness’

Shrill Konrad Mizzi makes lengthy deposition in stormy PAC on Electrogas deal where former energy minister floods session with overlong ‘oral presentation’

Konrad Mizzi (centre) flanked by his lawyers Jean Paul Sammut (left) and former magistrate Carol Peralta (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Konrad Mizzi (centre) flanked by his lawyers Jean Paul Sammut (left) and former magistrate Carol Peralta (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

The former Labour energy minister Konrad Mizzi lashed out against the Public Accounts Committee chair Beppe Fenech Adami in a session in which he first appeared to defend his role in according Electrogas a €200 million contract to build a gas plant at Delimara.

Mizzi, now sacked from Labour and sitting as an independent MP, called Fenech Adami “a bully and entitled” in a show of hysterics where Nationalist MPs squared up against the witness, famously having opened a secret Panama company together with former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

“You think you can do whatever you want because your father was President, you think you are royalty,” he said, referring to President emeritus and former Nationalist PM Eddie Fenech Adami.

Mizzi had already failed to appear multiple times before the committee, citing impartiality on one occasion and the unavailability of his lawyer in another. He was assisted at the PAC by lawyers Jean Paul Sammut and Carol Peralta, judge emeritus.

Mizzi was energy minister when Electrogas, a consortium composed of Siemens, SOCAR, and Maltese business groups Gasan and Tumas, was awarded a €200 million contract for the Delimara gas plant. But he was revealed by the Panama Papers of having opened a secret offshore company in Panama in 2016, together with former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.

In 2017, it was revealed that the company was linked to another secret company, 17 Black, owned by Electrogas shareholder Yorgen Fenech, the Tumas magnate. In 2019, after Fenech was arrested and accused of masterminding the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Mizzi was removed from tourism minister.

He was subsequently sacked from the Labour Party in March 2020 ostensibly over the Enemalta-Mozura wind energy scandal.

Mizzi’s testimony began with a presentation on the Electrogas power station, giving details on how government carried out the project. While carrying out the presentation, Mizzi hit out at the 2008 Nationalist administration, saying they had a track record of “failures”.

But Fenech Adami hit back at Mizzi, calling him corrupt: “You are corrupt, and the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry showed that.”

Mizzi said he would be calling for a ruling on Fenech Adami’s comments that he was corrupt. After Fenech Adami’s comments, the testimony turned into a shouting match between the Opposition committee members and the former minister.

“I will be there to vote wholeheartedly against you, so you don’t get elected, so you remove your sense of entitlement,” Mizzi told Fenech Adami.

The Nationalist MPs hit back at Konrad Mizzi, mentioning his “various” shortcomings. “We have black on white that you opened accounts in Panama and New Zealand, we know you are corrupt.”

After the lenghty tiff, Mizzi resumed his overlong ‘oral presentation’ as he called it, saying Malta in 2013 needed the changeover to LNG. “Enemalta was on the brink of bankruptcy – this is not what we said, this is what credit rating agencies said.”

“We wanted to carry out an overhaul of the sector. The PN did is utmost for the project to not go through, and we know why – because they didn’t want us to change the situation,” he said. “Enemalta’s failure was risking the whole economy.”

When remarks were passed by the Opposition MPs on Mizzi’s Panama account, Mizzi repeatedly referenced the Capital One case, a money laundering investigation that went unfinished during the 2013 elections after it was revealed that one of the investigated fiduciary companies had Beppe Fenech Adami as a director.

Mizzi defended the Electrogas deal saying neither an NAO report nor scrutiny from the European Commission had found anything untoward. “What the auditor general published on the Electrogas deal, does not compare to the BWSC report,” he said. He quoted extracts from the NAO report, which he said clearly stated the selection process was “a fair one.”

Mizzi said the despite the “small administrative shortcomings”, the final outcome would have remained the same. “This is not what I am saying, this is what the Auditor said… Yes, he did mention administrative shortcomings, and these might have been debatable, but this is normal, especially in a project of this magnitude,” he said.

The testimony was suspended, and will continue on another day. The official date will be communicated in the coming days.