Electrogas power station investor Yorgen Fenech named as 17 Black owner

Media reports have named the CEO of the Tumas Group Yorgen Fenech as the owner of the mysterious Dubai company 17 Black that was a target client of Panama companies belonging to Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi

Yorgen Fenech from the Tumas Group and a key player in the Electrogas power station has been identified as the owner of 17 Black
Yorgen Fenech from the Tumas Group and a key player in the Electrogas power station has been identified as the owner of 17 Black

Businessman Yorgen Fenech, who is involved in the Electrogas power station project, was identified as the owner of 17 Black by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, according to media reports.

Fenech was named by the Times of Malta and Reuters as the sole owner of the Dubai-based company 17 Black.

In a joint investigation, the media outlets said that the police’s Economic Crimes Unit received a report from the FIAU some seven months ago for a money-laundering investigation.

17 Black has been at the centre of much controversy after it was named as a target client for two Panama companies set up by Nexia BT for minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, shortly after the 2013 election.

Schembri had confirmed that 17 Black and Macbridge, two Dubai-based companies, were listed as target clients in business plans drawn up for his Panama company Tillgate, when the news was broken by the Daphne Project earlier this year.

Fenech is the CEO of the Tumas Group that has a shareholding in Electrogas, the firm that also includes Azeri energy company Socar and Siemens.

Electrogas won a multi-million euro tender to build and operate a gas power station and liquefied natural gas terminal in Delimara. The power station project was a key electoral pledge of the Labour government.

17 Black received two payments

An excerpt from a leaked FIAU report had shown how 17 Black received at least two payments at its bank account in the United Arab Emirates. 17 Black had an account at Noor Bank.

One of the payments was a $1.4 million transfer from a Latvian bank through a Seychelles-based company called Mayor-Trans, belonging to an Azeri national.

The other payment to 17 Black was for $200,000 from Mario Pullicino of Orion Engineering Group, which is the local agent for the LNG tanker fuelling the power station.

Pullicino had told the FIAU the payment to 17 Black was for the provision of manpower.

Fenech's response

Times of Malta and Reuters quoted Fenech denying any wrongdoing but failing to confirm or deny ownership of 17 Black.

"I would like to put on the record that I am not a political person, I have no political affiliation, past or present, and throughout my career in business I, or any company which I represent, have never had, or intended to have, any untoward business relation with any PEP or politically affiliated individuals or entities.

"We have always and consistently run our operations in compliant, transparent and above board fashion and it is very troubling, not to say offensive, to read certain questions which imply my involvement in such outrageous activities," Mr Fenech said in an e-mail reply to questions by the Times of Malta.

Political reactions

In an immediate reaction to the news, former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said he never had any doubt that the power station project was mired in corruption, calling on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri to face justice.

The European People's Party said in a statement that the identity of the owner of 17 Black was revealed following an investigation on the FIAU report published by PN MEP David Casa in July this year.

"17 Black is the Dubai company that was to funnel €150,000 monthly to Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri. Two months ago, David Casa called on Noor Bank to investigate the activity of its client - 17 Black. He provided Noor Bank with evidence of 17 Black’s involvement in criminal activity," the EPP said.

Casa has now written to the UAE Central Bank to safeguard those funds and have them subsequently returned to the Maltese people. "The ownership of 17 Black proves large scale corruption and criminal activity in the power station project. It proves that Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi are corrupt politicians stealing from the Maltese people. And it proves that our institutions have been captured to protect them," Casa said.