Six weeks. That’s all it took to bring major international and local investors together to agree on the mammoth task of bidding for Malta’s massive energy project, ElectroGas director and shareholder Paul Apap Bologna has said.
Apap Bologna, who was speaking in the public inquiry connected to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, was eager to dismiss suggestions that the ElectroGas deal was pre-ordained before the Labour Party won the 2013 general election.
He claimed that main players Siemens, Gasol, SOCAR and GEM Holdings were able to come together and outline the details of the bid within six weeks of the call for expression of interest on 11th April 2013.
“The shareholding of the companies was discussed in those six weeks. We also contracted serious companies like PWC to help us put this project together,” he said.
Gasol crashed out of the deal in 2015, while Electrogas was facing defaulting on major loans in 2017 and imminent bankruptcy. However, Apap Bologna said he only became aware of these details through the media.
GEM Holdings is split between four companies. Tumas Energy and Gasan Enterprises each own roughly 35% of the company. CP Holdings, a company owned by the Apap Bologna family, owns about 20%. A separate company, New Energy Ltd., owned solely by Fenech owns about 8%.
Apap Bologna’s personal stake in the GEM Holdings stands at about €9 million. He has made €6.1 million but said that the money had gone back into the company.
Apap Bologna confirmed that his initial idea for the energy plan emerged in 2008. He first presented a proposal to former minister John Dalli, who later set up a meeting with then-Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and other cabinet members.
Gasan Group were already on board at this point. However, Apap Bologna said the plan was shelved due to lack of interest.
That all changed in January 2013, Apap Bologna claimed, after Konrad Mizzi revealed that a radical change to the energy grid would be a key proposal for the Labour Government.
Apap Bologna claimed Yorgen Fenech was only brought on board 10 days later. Fenech was made the lead on the project and was granted an exclusive personal shareholding in the company, something which lawyer Jason Azzopardi claims was used for kickbacks for Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
A proposal was only presented to the Labour Party in the run-up to the 2013 election. However, Apap Bologna insisted that the final bid differed greatly from that proposal.
He could not reply to questions on Mizzi’s statement in 2013 that the project would cost €376 million, the same cost in the Electrogas project announced months later.
Apap Bologna dismissed any suggestion of political influence in the deal, saying he only became aware of Fenech’s fraternal relationship with Schembri and former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat much later. Apap Bologna said he was unaware of claims that Joe Gasan organised meeting with Muscat and the business community, which have since been denied by Gasan.
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