[WATCH] Konrad Mizzi abandons PAC hearing then returns to tell MPs he will only reply after Speaker's ruling

Former minister Konrad Mizzi storms out of a PAC hearing to ask for Speaker’s ruling • PAC orders him to continue testifying

Konrad Mizzi storming out of the PAC meeting
Konrad Mizzi storming out of the PAC meeting

Final updated at 4:05pm

Former energy minister Konrad Mizzi walked out of a Public Accounts Committee hearing on Wednesday after objecting to questions put to him by Opposition MPs.

Mizzi took umbrage at questions and comments by PAC chair Beppe Fenech Adami and insisted he wanted to ask the Speaker for a ruling.

An hour into the PAC hearing and just before 2:30pm, Mizzi stood up and walked out to head towards the plenary where he wanted to ask for a ruling.

Mizzi was objecting to Fenech Adami’s choice of the word ‘friends’ with reference to the people on the adjudicating board that awarded the Electrogas tender.

Mizzi insisted that was a “sinister insinuation” with Fenech Adami responding that Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and consultant David Galea were close to the former minister.

The PAC erupted into a tit for tat between Mizzi and Opposition MPs with the former minister insisting he will stop answering questions and will ask for a ruling.

“I want the Speaker to protect me from your behaviour,” Mizzi hit out at Fenech Adami.

The chair insisted that as a witness Mizzi was obliged to answer questions put to him by the committee.

Mizzi replied that he was willing to answer any questions related to the Auditor General’s report on Electrogas but not on allegations and insinuations.

Mizzi then stormed out of the hearing, accompanied by his lawyers Carol Peralta and Jean Pierre Sammut.

Government MPs voted against a motion condemning Mizzi’s behaviour put forward by PN MP Karol Aquilina.

Government MPs insisted that Mizzi had a right as an MP to ask for a ruling and the hearing should continue after he called for the ruling.

Aquilina insisted that the committee should demand that Mizzi return to the hearing after asking for the ruling. At this stage, all committee members agreed that Mizzi be ordered to continue testifying.

Mizzi tells MPs he will only answer after Speaker's ruling

Konrad Mizzi returned to the PAC hearing but informed MPs he wanted to wait for the Speaker’s ruling before replying to any question.

“I want to wait for the Speaker’s ruling. I want to await his guidance,” Mizzi insisted.

Karol Aquilina then asked Mizzi when he got to know Joseph Muscat. “I will wait for the Speaker’s ruling,” he replied.

Mizzi insisted that he felt prejudiced by the attitude adopted in the committee and would wait for the Speaker’s ruling.

Opposition MPs continued asking questions with Mizzi’s standard reply being that he wanted to wait for the Speaker’s guidance.

“You can ask me what you want but you cannot make baseless accusations,” Mizzi said.

“You are trying to entrap me… I am convinced more than ever that I will not answer you because your attitude is wrong. I will not give you the satisfaction. I will only speak when the ruling is delivered,” Mizzi insisted.

Aquilina asked Mizzi whether the police interrogated him and whether they asked him for his mobile and he refused to give them his password.

Mizzi insisted he will only answer when the Speaker delivers his ruling. But then, Mizzi erupted: “Let me be clear that all these questions are a lie but on principle I will not reply until the Speaker gives his ruling.”

PN MP Ryan Callus accused Mizzi of delaying tactics. “You are waiting for the election to be called so that you will not reply,” Callus said.

Mizzi insisted people will judge him and he will not give the PN MPs the satisfaction of “playing to your agenda”.

Aquilina kept pressing on with questions on Mizzi’s involvement with the Labour Party before the 2013 election and his travels to China but the former minister kept repeating the same reply.

At one point, Aquilina asked whether he had “a box hidden anywhere in Malta”, to which Mizzi almost choked on the water he was sipping. “I will answer once the Speaker delivers his ruling,” Mizzi said.

Aquilina asked whether the police looked into this ‘box’ or anyone else and Mizzi laughed it off.

The former minister then reiterated that even with the Speaker’s ruling he will not be answering most of these questions because they had nothing to do with the NAO report.

Fenech Adami asked Mizzi about Brian Tonna’s and David Galea’s presence on the committee that evaluated the gas power station tender but Mizzi kept refusing the suggestion that they were “his men” or “his friends”.

He was then asked by Callus what breakfast he took and Mizzi brushed off the question with his lawyers telling him not to even bother replying.

Mizzi asked about pardoned excise tax

Fenech Adami then asked Mizzi about his role to pardon €40 million in excise taxes due by Electrogas after a meeting he had with Yorgen Fenech and Turab Musayev.

Mizzi repeated the same reply but insisted that he was not a party to the emails being quoted.

The tax issue had been a matter of serious concern among the Electrogas shareholders in 2017 since it risked bankrupting the company. Eventually, government agreed that the excise tax due be transferred as a charge to Enemalta. The decision was taken in October 2017, days after Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered.

At one point Aquilina accused Mizzi of being a “lackey” of Yorgen Fenech. Mizzi exploded, denying the charge. “You are a lackey and a vulgar person. Stop,” Mizzi hit back.

The meeting continued until 4pm with Mizzi reiterating that he will only answer questions after the Speaker’s ruling.

Another meeting of the PAC is scheduled for Thursday, 27 January.