Enemalta ratified Electrogas contract after evaluation board scrutiny - former chairman

Former Enemalta chairperson Charles Mangion insists with the PAC that the board only 'ratified' a decision already taken by the evaluation committee on the Electrogas contract

Former Enemalta Chairman Charles Mangion
Former Enemalta Chairman Charles Mangion

Former Enemalta chairman Charles Mangion told the Public Accounts Committee that the state company's board only ratified the decision of the evaluation committee to award the tender to Electrogas.

Mangion was testifying on the Electrogas power station contract before the PAC on Tuesday morning.

He was asked repeatedly about his role in ratifying the decisionto award the contract to Electrogas, but Mangion insisted the decision had already been taken by the evaluation committee.

“I feel it would have been irresponsible not to ratify it. The approval was sealed. It was all approved and the ratification was necessary,” Mangion said.

He explained that at the time, there were seven people on the Enemalta board, but only five were present to vote, with four voting in favour and one (Lara Boffa) against.

“I don’t remember any vociferous opposition to the contract. If there had been a strong opposition against Electrogas, it would have been recorded in the meeting as all board members had the opportunity to ask questions. I don’t recall any questions that raised red lights,” Mangion insisted.

PN MP Mark Anthony Sammut pointed out to Mangion, that Boffa had said that not enough information had been provided in the presentation offered by former Enemalta CEO Louis Giordamaina.

Asked about his potential conflict of interest in the decision, having had offered notary services to Tumas Group before, Mangion once again insisted his vote was just a “ratification” on a decision which had already been taken by the evaluation committee.

PN MP David Agius intervened telling Mangion that his vote was crucial in the lead up to the Electrogas contract award.

PL MP Alex Muscat and Andy Ellul objected, telling Agius that this was “factually incorrect”, since if hypothetically Mangion voted against, the vote would still have gone through.

'There was a significant increase in the risks Enemalta was taking' - Assistant Auditor General

The chair of the PAC, Darren Carabott asked Mangion whether he was worried about the shortcomings identified by the National Audit Office.

Mangion admitted that he had not read the report, not even the 52-page abridged version. “No I have not read the report – I have a lot of things to do,” Mangion told Carabott.

The former Enemalta chairman once again kept insisting that the vote of the board was only ratification of a decision which had already been taken.

Auditor General Charles Deguara and his assistant Keith Mercieca then took the stand, whilst Mangion was asked out of the room.

Mercieca explained that their main concerns were with terms that had been updated midway through the process, including “significant changes” to the take-or-pay obligations and the security of supply agreement.

“There was a significant increase in the risks Enemalta was taking. The government ended up in a worse position with all the bidders,” Mercieca said.

Alex Muscat intervened, asking Mercieca whether he still felt that the best bidder had been chosen. Mercieca refused to answer, with Carabott objecting to the line of questioning.

PN MP Justin Schembri asked Mercieca whether in his opinion that process had to be restarted. Mercieca was visibly uncomfortable and said the answer was highly “subjective”.