Electrogas officials, including Yorgen Fenech (third from right), receive an award in London in 2016. Photo: Electrogas
German manufacturing giant Siemens, one of three partners in the Electrogas consortium, has said it is monitoring the situation in Malta “very closely” in the wake of last week’s 17 Black revelations.
“I can tell you that Siemens has no business relationship with a company called 17 Black Ltd,” a Siemens spokesperson said in response to questions by Lovin Malta. “Siemens is monitoring the situation in Malta very closely. Please understand that we currently cannot comment on the topic any further.”
PN MEP David Casa today personally wrote to Stephen Mayer, Germany’s parliamentary secretary of state for the interior, to request the German authorities to launch an immediate investigation into Siemens in the wake of the 17 Black findings. Germany has strict anti-corruption legislation that also applies to its citizens and businesses overseas.
An investigation by The Times of Malta and Reuters last week found that 17 Black is owned by Yorgen Fenech, the CEO of the Tumas Group, which along with the Gasan Group and pharmaceutical importer Paul Apap Bologna own GEM Holdings. GEM Holdings, Siemens and Azeri state-owned energy company SOCAR are joint shareholders in Electrogas, which runs the LNG power station in Delimara.
Keith Schembri (left) and Konrad Mizzi (right)
Email evidence shows that Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri had intended to receive €150,000 a month via their Panama companies from 17 Black and another Dubai company called Macbridge.
The latest revelations have raised serious questions about the power station deal, which was awarded to Electrogas shortly after Labour’s election victory in 2013. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat argued that converting one of Malta’s main energy sources from heavy fuel oil to LNG would be beneficial on two fronts, namely cleaner air and cheaper electricity bills.
However, the Opposition is now arguing that the latest evidence proves that Malta didn’t need the power station in the first place and that the contract was signed for corrupt purposes.
Electrogas has insisted that it never had any relationship with 17 Black and that it wasn’t informed of Fenech’s ownership of the company until this was published in the press. However, it will not re-assess GEM Holdings’ role in the consortium in light of the revelations.