[WATCH] Konrad Mizzi stonewalls PAC, refuses to testify before Speaker's ruling

On Wednesday Konrad Mizzi stormed out of PAC meeting and asked Speaker for a ruling, alleging his rights were breached

Former energy minister Konrad Mizzi refused to answer any questions from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting on Thursday, a day after a turbulent Wednesday meeting, during which he stormed out alleging his rights were breached.

On Wednesday, Mizzi took umbrage at questions and comments by PAC chair Beppe Fenech Adami and insisted he wanted to ask the Speaker for a ruling.He stormed out of the meeting and asked Speaker Anġlu Farrugia for a ruling, asking for protection from PN members.

Mizzi asked the Speaker to read the transcripts of all the PAC meetings in which he appeared, with Farrugia agreeing to do so.

During Thursday's meeting, Mizzi started by refusing to answer any questions put forward, saying that he will wait for the Speaker's ruling before answering the committee.

Mizzi still bickered with Fenech Adami over what he felt were unfair assertions against him. Fenech Adami tried pressing Mizzi on the appointment of David Galea as chairman of the Electrogas tender evaluation committee. 

“You’re saying ‘you say’ - do you know that when there is a direct order the Ministry of Finance has to approve it?” Mizzi said.

“Do you blame the Ministry of Finance?” Fenech Adami rebutted.

“No of course not!” Mizzi exclaimed.

The Opposition MPs further pressed Mizzi on how the tender evaluation committee ranked one company's financial strength as zero during the tender process.

"We have a paper showing the weighting system you used to choose the final bidder," Fenech Adami said.

"Why do you say 'you'... I wasn't on the evaluation committee," Mizzi hit back.

The PAC is examining of the Auditor General's report into matters relating to the contracts awarded to Electrogas by Enemalta. One issue flagged by the Auditor General was the way each consortium was ranked during the evaluation process.

For example, the National Audit Office said that the financial statements of Gasol plc, which forms part of the Electrogas consortium, should have raised significant concern.

"If you carried out any due diligence, it would have resulted that Gasol could never have honoured its obligations," Fenech Adami said, with reference to the audit report. 

Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina tried to ask Mizzi about his Panamian company, opened soon after the Labour Party entered government in the 2013 general election.

His company was supposed to receive funds from 17 Black, a Dubai-based company owned by Yorgen Fenech, a shareholder in the Electrogas project.

Aquilina then listed a number of banks and asked Mizzi whether he tried opening accounts within their company.

“Do you confirm that you tried to open an account in a Bahamas bank? In a Miami bank? In the BSI Bank in Panama?”

Mizzi reiterated each time that he would only speak after the Speaker gives his ruling.

Aquilina went on to ask about a visit to Qatar weeks after the 2013 election. He insinuated that Mizzi might have signed a secret agreement on the purchasing of LNG during this visit.

Mizzi said before that he wasn't involved in appointing the evaluation committee for the tender. However, Nationalist MP Ryan Callus said that in 2013, during a meeting in Mizzi's Castille office, David Galea presented a list of persons that would make up the committee.

According to the minutes, Mizzi was present for the meeting.

Any attempts to squeeze out an answer from Mizzi on the evaluation process proved futile, with the former minister replying each time that he will wait for the Speaker's ruling before testifying.

An hour later, the meeting burst into a rowdy tit-for-tat between the Labour and Nationalist MPs. The government MPs boasted of lowering energy prices, with Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo loudly proclaiming that the Maltese people "voted wholeheartedly to get the Nationalist Party out of Castille" in the 2013 general election.

As things quieted down, Fenech Adami continued trying to question Mizzi on the evaluation procedure, specifically the way each bidder's financial strength was graded. Callus tried to question government's choice for offshore gas storage.

"According to technical specialists, the onshore option was better. However, the tight deadlines almost certainly exclude this option. So hear there is the conclusion that despite the European Commission having policies that push Member States to stop offshore storage, and despite expert advice that onshore is less secure, you went ahead and chose the more dangerous option. Do you not feel responsible for this?" Callus asked.

Aquilina tried to ask Mizzi about his friendship with Chen Cheng. "Did you know about his side endeavours? Have you ever met with his mother-in-law?"

Callus went on to question Mizzi on a trip to Azerbaijan, during which Callus alleged that Mizzi set up a secret agreement on the purchasing of gas.

The Nationalist MP alleged that Mizzi's flights were arranged in such a way that a TVM journalist assigned to cover the meeting would be stopped from making it to the coverage.

"This agreement with Azerbaijan on gas purchases was so secret that you wanted the head of the TVM newsroom to arrive late for the meeting, and made sure you were not on the same flight as this journalist," Callus claimed, with Mizzi neither confirming nor denying this.

Callus remarked that not even a civil servant was invited for this meeting, something unheard of for state visits.

Fenech Adami then prompted Mizzi on an email exchange between former Nexia BT partner Karl Cini and Mossack Fonseca assistant Juan Carlos Martinez. In the exchange, Cini said that his clients will be passing on original documents to "the bank".

The exchange took place days before Mizzi travelled to Dubai.

"I'm suggesting that you went to Dubai with the relevant documents to open an account," Fenech Adami alleged.

The allegations continued, with Aquilina claiming that Mizzi visited his lawyers in London with none other than Yorgen Fenech when reports surfaced of his offshore accounts.

The Nationalist MPs then tried asking Mizzi about Enemalta's purchase of a wind farm in Montenegro. Fenech Adami went through the events of the scandal, with Yorgen Fenech's 17 Black earning a €4.6 million profit from the venture. 

Callus asked whether Mizzi was questioned by Enemalta during its internal investigation on the transaction, and whether he had any meetings with Enemalta on the issue.

Mizzi refused to respond, after which the meeting ended.