Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Only Maltese Award Had A Twisted Connection To 17 Black

Tumas Fenech Foundation chairman denies conflict of interest

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Daphne Caruana Galizia was posthumously awarded the IĠM's Gold Award earlier this year

Daphne Caruana Galizia has been showered with posthumous awards around the world but has only received one in her native country, the Gold Award by the Institute of the Maltese Journalists (IĠM).

However, in an ironic twist, it turns out this award was sponsored by the Tumas Fenech Foundation for Education in Journalism, which was set up in honour of the grandfather of Yorgen Fenech, recently revealed as the owner of Dubai company 17 Black.

The Foundation’s chair, President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, insisted there is no conflict of interest between the Foundation’s role in promoting journalism and Yorgen Fenech’s role in the scandal.

“The Foundation has got absolutely nothing to do with the Tumas Group,” Mifsud Bonnici told Lovin Malta. “It was set up in honour of the late Tumas Fenech and used to be funded by the Tumas Group, but the Group has got absolutely no influence on the Foundation and none of the Group’s members sit on our board.”

Ugo Mifsud Bonnici

President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici. Photo: Institute for Cultural Diplomacy

The President Emeritus said he never even met Yorgen Fenech and wouldn’t recognise him if he were to bump into him on the street, but he declined to comment on 17 Black, arguing that he hasn’t delved into the story yet.

The Tumas Fenech Foundation has for over a decade been sponsoring the IĠM’s annual Gold Award, its highest recognition for people working in journalism.

The 2018 Gold Award was handed posthumously to Daphne Caruana Galizia last May, making her the first woman to win the award. Unlike other award ceremonies in other countries, no relative of the slain journalist was present to pick up the award.

The existence of 17 Black, which was supposed to be a target client of Konrad Mizzi’s and Keith Schembri’s Panama companies, was revealed by Caruana Galizia in a cryptic blogpost in February 2017.

An investigation by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) and a subsequent investigation by Reuters and The Times of Malta found that 17 Black was owned by Yorgen Fenech, a director of the Electrogas consortium running the LNG power station in Delimara.

READ NEXT: Electrogas Replies On 17 Black, Says Tumas Group Role Is Safe

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Tim Diacono

Tim Diacono tends to clam up when asked to describe himself. You can contact him on [email protected]