Konrad Mizzi defends Electrogas deal in another stormy PAC meeting

Konrad Mizzi accuses PAC chair Beppe Fenech Adami of being untouchable • Fenech Adami hits back: ‘You are a sad desperate joke’

Konrad Mizzi (centre) flanked by his lawyers Jean Paul Sammut (left) and Carol Peralta during a PAC hearing on the Electrogas contract
Konrad Mizzi (centre) flanked by his lawyers Jean Paul Sammut (left) and Carol Peralta during a PAC hearing on the Electrogas contract

Konrad Mizzi continued to defend his legacy and the Electrogas project in another session of the Public Accounts Committee characterised by several stormy exchanges on Wednesday.

Mizzi accused PAC chair Beppe Fenech Adami of being untouchable within the Nationalist Party with the PN MP describing Mizzi as “a sad joke”.

The former energy minister reiterated that he had no knowledge of 17 Black and Macbridge, the companies listed as target clients to his Panama company.

He denied any wrongdoing, insisting he never received money.

'I never received money'

“There was no corruption or intention to do so. I never received any money. I have nothing to do with 17 Black and Macbridge and only got to know about them when they were outed by newspapers. I only got to know Yorgen Fenech owned 17 Black when his name was in the media. I cannot answer anything about them,” Mizzi said as he closed a one-and-a-half-hour presentation.

“Brian Tonna [from the now shuttered Nexia BT] had testified under oath that the names 17 Black and Macbridge were not given to him by me,” Mizzi said.

Nexia BT had handled the process to open companies in Panama for Mizzi and former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Mizzi defended the Electrogas contract, saying the gas supply agreement was for 10 years and ensured a fixed price in the first five years and an indexed price for the following five.

“This agreement ensured stability, which also led to lower electricity prices,” he insisted, adding that without the long-term arrangement it would be next to impossible for Enemalta to buy any gas at spot prices today.

Mizzi said the 10-year agreement was designed to expire in 2028 by which time Malta would have a natural gas pipeline with Sicily.

In one of the heated exchanges with the PN MPs on the committee, Mizzi brought up the David Thake VAT case.

“I did not receive one cent from anyone and if there is someone who did not pay his taxes it was David Thake… and Bernard Grech,” Mizzi said.

'You are still an MP after shaming the country'

Fenech Adami hit back, insisting that Thake shouldered responsibility and resigned from parliament. “You are still here as an MP after shaming this country,” Fenech Adami said.

Mizzi rebutted that nobody will find proof he took any money because there isn’t any.

“I am still here because time will tell who is telling the truth,” he added before continuing with his Thake diatribe: “Thake resigned only after he was caught; he is a thief, he took VAT from clients who bought a kitchen from his company and kept it.”

His statement was met with disbelief by the PN MPs.

Mizzi then brought up the Naxxar mayor’s rebuke of Bernard Grech when she refused to resign over a conflict of interest. Anne Marie Muscat Fenech Adami now faces a disciplinary committee.

“Your relative did not resign from the Naxxar council because the Fenech Adami’s believe they can do what they want. They believe they are royalty, above the rules. She ignored Bernard Grech because he can do nothing to her,” Mizzi jeered.

Fenech Adami hit back: “You are a sad desperate joke… a sad joke. We walk in the street while you hide.”

Mizzi replied by bringing up the Żeppi l-Ħafi affair and the secret meeting former prime minister Eddie Fenech Adami had with him underneath the Regional Road bridge before a decision was taken to grant the man a presidential pardon.

“You are nervous because I mentioned your family,” Mizzi insisted.

'A sad joke'

“Yours is a tantrum… what a sad joke,” Fenech Adami hit back before PN MP Ryan Callus chimed in challenging Mizzi to contest the next election and see whether the Labour Party will accept him.

The PAC is probing further the National Audit Office’s findings on the Electrogas contract, a report released in 2018.

Various witnesses have been called to testify. Mizzi has already appeared twice before today, during which time he has been allowed to read through a presentation.

Mizzi is being assisted by lawyer Jean Paul Sammut and former magistrate Carol Peralta.

In his last words during today’s meeting, Mizzi said he was willing to answer any question on the NAO report’s findings but not on anything else.