Updated | Delia hits out at Twitter allegations of 'conflict' over Labour energy policy

Opposition leader insists he had no knowledge of a bond issue for former Electrogas shareholder, Gasol plc, and has denied newspaper claims suggesting his ‘moral authority is weakened’

Adrian Delia: his law firm’s services to Gasol raised questions about his ability to criticise Labour’s gas energy project
Adrian Delia: his law firm’s services to Gasol raised questions about his ability to criticise Labour’s gas energy project

Opposition leader Adrian Delia has denied any knowledge of – or asociation with – a bond issue by Gasol plc, a former stakeholder in Malta’s Electrogas, and has insisted he therefore does not have a conflct of interest.

The PN leader was taken to task on Twitter, accused of holding a “conflict” that prevents him from criticising the Labour government’s LNG power station – its key policy plank in its 2013 election campaign.

The anonymous messages posted on Twitter claim that Delia, because of his work for Gasol, will be hard-pressed, if not unable, to criticise the project, with some messages saying that words like ‘Azerbaijan’ and ‘Socar’ were taboo for the PN leader.

The Nationalist Party has been a scathing critic of the government’s 18-year agreement with Electrogas.

The story was given front-page prominence by the Malta Independent, which also dedicated its leader to the report.

The comments focus on the fact that Delia’s firm Aequitas Trust and Fiduciary Limited, in 2014 offered legal services its client Tradexec, a brokerage firm that raised funds for a Gasol bond.

Gasol was the original lead partner selected by the government for the Delimara power station project, but later sold its 25% stake in Electrogas. The shares are now held by Maltese business group GEM Holdings, Azerbaijani state energy company SOCAR, and Siemens.

Delia was not involved in politics at the time.

In a statement this afternoon, the Nationalist Party insisted that Delia had never set on the board of directors of Tradexec, which raised funds for Gasol plc, and that he therefore did not know about the bond issue by Gasol plc.

As per industry practice, Delia’s law firm and trust company Aequitas owns one share in Tradexec. The remaining shares belong to Future Capital Growth Holdings Limited, which like Tradexec is registered in the same Valletta building where Aequitas offices are situated.

Tradexec’s nominal shareholders are Delia’s law partner Georg Sapiano, fellow director Nicolette Spiteri Bailey and a Belgian national – Cedric Francis Frederic Joinneau. It is ultimately owned by Capunited Holdings SARL of Luxembourg, which is in turn owned by Alpstar UK, whose founder is asset manager Nicolas Bravard.

The Malta Independent reported that while Aequitas was involved in Gasol’s bond issue, the USD23 million in financing was meant to guarantee loan notes issued by Afrique Energie Corp, a Canadian-registered development company that one of Gasol’s subsidiaries has invested in. The funds were to be used to purchase gas reserves in West Africa that required development.

Afrique Energie Corp engaged Tradexec Ltd for the bond issue in February 2015.

The Malta Independent ran a leader saying the news weakened Delia’s moral authority “to speak out against the unbridled behaviour of the government he is supposed to be keeping in check.”

The PN insisted that Delia had no conflict of interest and that nothing would stop him from criticising and wrongdoing.

“He [Delia] has already proven this by instituting court cases against Vitals, introducing motions in parliament and calling for the resignations of various individuals, including the police commissioner,” the statement read.

The newspaper said that it was not Aequitas’s client that was a troubling aspect, although this provided “ample grist for the mill for government acolytes and trolls”.

And while conceding there was nothing illegal about Aequitas’s business for Tradexec and Gasol, “it should also be appreciated that the new post-Panama papers times in which we are living demand new scruples, new levels of accountability and new thresholds of transparency.”

The PN said that before entering politics, Delia had been part of a firm of lawyers that offered licensed and legal services to individuals and companies.

“Honest, legitimate and licensed professional work should not preclude someone from serving in politics."

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