[WATCH] I have never had any association with Fenech’s 17 Black, says Konrad Mizzi

Minister implicated in Panama Papers stands by Labour government’s achievements on energy rates, despite Yorgen Fenech’s involvement in Electrogas

Konrad Mizzi (right)
Konrad Mizzi (right)

Tourism minister Konrad Mizzi, one of two Labour officials implicated in the Panama Papers, put on a steadfast defence of the Labour government’s efforts at having secured the arrest of the alleged mastermind behind the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

But Mizzi, the former energy minister under whose purview Tumas scion Yorgen Fenech’s Electrogas was chosen along with Socar and Siemens to build a plant and supply natural gas, said he had no regrets about the business group’s involvement in the project, a chief plank of Labour’s 2013 election win.

“Fenech is just one part of the bigger deal that is Electrogas… that deal has been scrutinised by the European Commission and it is giving us cheaper energy rates,” he said of the Electrogas deal.

Fenech, arrested earlier in the day on his yacht as it sailed out of Portomaso in St Julian’s, was one part of GEM Holdings, which owns a 33% stake in Electrogas.

“The relationship with Fenech has been professional, as much as any MP’s, from both sides, relationship with Fenech has been professional. I saw him during our talks on Electrogas, and more recently on tourism-related developments given that the Tumas Group is heavily involved in tourism. We haven’t met socially for quite a well… I have had no contact with him.”

Mizzi was also adamant that he never had any association with Fenech’s 17 Black, a Dubai company which Keith Schembri, the PM’s chief of staff, was revealed to have indicated as a ‘target client’, according to emails unearthed by the Daphne Project.

“I have no association with 17 Black. My statements to you have been consistent. Under oath in court, I have explained that I had no association with either Macbridge or 17 Black. I have always said the truth, and I have no concerns about what I’ve said.”

Mizzi would not be drawn into whether Schembri, with whom he opened one of two Panama companies through the auditors Nexia BT, should now resign given his association with Fenech’s 17 Black, a mysterious company believed to be connected to the power plant project. “Mr Schembri can speak for himself… he has worked hard to secure two momentous victories for this party. But this issue is a political issue… and [our opponents] have never accepted the fact that Labour can deliver on its pledges, even on rule of law, with the removal of prescription of corruption and the whistleblower’s act.”

Mizzi also said Labour had managed to achieve much in the Caruana Galizia murder investigation, when compared to previous murders which have remained shrouded in mystery. “Was the Karen Grech assassination ever solved by the Nationalist administration? We are ensuring that everything possible is being done to solve this case.”

Mizzi was demoted to a minister without portfolio in 2016 after the Panama Papers scandal, and relinquished his post as deputy leader of the Labour Party. After the 2017 election, he was re-elected and appointed tourism minister.

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