[WATCH] Electrogas: Mizzi strikes triumphant note, ‘I have no connection to 17 Black or Macbridge’

“The report now discredits the Opposition’s allegations on corruption in the process”, said tourism minister Konrad Mizzi

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday

Tourism minister Konrad Mizzi has denied having any connection with the Dubai company 17 Black, a company reportedly owned by an Electrogas shareholder. 

In a press conference he gave in the wake of the NAO report on the Electrogas power plant tender, Mizzi denied having intended to receive money from 17 Black, as documentation released in the Daphne Project attests. 

“I have no connection to either 17 Black or Macbridge,” he said referring to another company identified as a target client of his Panama offshore company. 

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“I invited you to go the world over and chase any book. You will find not one penny... I don’t know who the owner of 17 Black is. I am convinced the truth will emerge from the ongoing inquiry... there was no form of corruption, I never took any money,” Mizzi said. 

Mizzi refused to answer questions on whether he had sought clarification from Nexia BT, the auditors who set up his Panama company and New Zealand trust, as to why they had indicated 17 Black as the “target client” of Hearnville Inc. 

“The NAO’s investigation found no corruption. I always insisted the allegations of money laundering are false. The Egrant inquiry was a first step: I had no bank account in Pilatus or intended receiving any money there. I won a defamation case against the Malta Independent for asserting I had not told my financial advisors that I was a PEP – that was a blatant lie. My New Zealand trust was for a family investment. I repeat, I never had any association with 17 Black.”

Mizzi welcomed the conclusion of the Auditor General’s inquiry into the Electrogas tendering process, a €200 million gas plant that was the Labour Party’s main electoral promise in 2013, with its commissioning being awarded to Electrogas, a consortium made up of Maltese investors GEM Holdings, Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, and German multinational Siemens. 

“The Maltese government welcomes the NAO’s conclusions, which confirm the tendering process was fair and transparent, as well as an example of best practice in the selection of such projects,” Mizzi said in an initial reaction he published on Facebook. 

“This is the second confirmation of the tender’s transparent process – the first had been the European Commission’s report which discredited allegations made on State aid and procurement. The report now discredits the Opposition’s allegations on corruption in the process: we now look forward for the Maltese to benefit from lower prices and cleaner air,” Mizzi said. 

Mizzi was energy minister and the architect of the LNG power plant in Delimara, which currently procures gas from Electrogas through a floating storage regasification unit, until a gas pipeline is built connecting Delimara to the European mainland. But in 2016, Mizzi was revealed as having opened a secret company in Panama, together with the PM’s chief of staff Keith Schembri: these companies had identified a mysterious Dubai company, 17 Black, as their “target client” from which to receive monthly payments, which company is reportedly owned by one of GEM Holding’s main investors, Tumas Group owner Yorgen Fenech. 

The Ministry for Energy and Water Management welcomed the NAO report, saying it shjowed the gas power station was a necessary project for the country’s security of supply. “On the contrary of continuous baseless allegations by the Opposition, the Auditor General confirmed that the awarding of the contract was based on a fair competitive process with respect to the value of transparency.” 

Even though a number of minor administrative shortcomings were identified, the ministry said it had now confirmed that the selection of the Electrogas consortium represented the most advantageous and cheapest offer for consumers. “In the whole process, which was also scrutinised and approved by the European Commission, no cases of conflict of interest have resulted.” 

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