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Bernard Grech Backtracks On Leadership Campaign Pledge To Take ElectroGas Deal To Court 

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Bernard Grech has backtracked on a promise to file a court case against the ElectroGas power station contract that he had made during his PN leadership campaign two years ago.

In September 2020, just over a week before he was elected leader, Grech pledged that a court case against ElectroGas would be one of his main priorities.

“If I am given the faith to lead the Nationalist Party I, together with a team of experts, will look into what steps can be taken in our courts so that this contract can be rescinded and so the people can be untied of the extra payments which are a direct result of corruption,” he said.

He would have been the second PN leader to file a court case against a major public contract after his predecessor Adrian Delia filed a case against a hospital contract that was initially Vitals Global Healthcare and then passed on to Steward.

Delia’s case, which he filed in February 2018, is still ongoing, but has already yielded significant results including the release of an MoU signed months before a tender was even issued.

Asked by Lovin Malta why the court case hasn’t been filed yet, a PN spokesperson responded that a few weeks after Grech’s election as Opposition Leader, the Public Accounts Committee started investigating the NAO on the ElectroGas deal upon the initiative of the Opposition members on said Committee.

Former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi testifying at the PAC

Former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi testifying at the PAC

Although witnesses summoned to the PAC must testify under oath, it is not a full-blown court case, and the PN hasn’t even committed itself to pushing the investigation forward into the current legislature.

The spokesperson also referred to Grech’s pledge that a future PN government will terminate the ElectroGas contract and the PN leader’s calls on the government to publish the contract in full and to set up a public inquiry to investigate it.

“To date, Prime Minister Robert Abela prefers to remain hinged with the masterminds behind this deal: Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi,” he said.

“This makes the prime minister an accomplice in refusing to come clean on such a corrupt deal in the interest of the Maltese people.”

The ElectroGas consortium was selected to build and operate the LNG power station in Delimara back in October 2013, with a deal eventually signed in April 2015 and the project inaugurated two years later.

One of the Labour Party’s main pledges ahead of the 2013 general election, the power station was sold to the public as a way of producing clean energy and improving electricity generation efficiency, allowing the government to slash tariffs significantly.

The deal itself has raised eyebrows for several years, with The Guardian revealing in 2018 that Malta was losing millions of euro because it had committed itself to purchasing gas at a fixed rate for five years. With the global gas market plummeting, Malta was forced to pay twice the market rate.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine later caused gas prices to surge to record levels, placing the deal in a new perspective.

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat recently said the hedging deal saved Malta around €125 million.

Yorgen Fenech, a businessman charged with the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, owns shares in a company (GEM Holdings) that forms part of the consortium and was heavily involved in negotiations with the government.

In 2020, the Gasan Group announced their intention to sell its shares in GEM Holdings after potential links were drawn between the project and Caruana Galizia’s murder.

However, it is yet to actually sell their shares and the case against Fenech is ongoing, while no charges have been brought against ElectroGas.

Cover photo: Left: The ElectroGas power station (Photo: ElectroGas), Right: Opposition Leader Bernard Grech

Should Malta stick with or scrap the ElectroGas power station?

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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