Energy Minister Michael Farrugia’s links to Yorgen Fenech, the main suspect in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination, are under the microscope yet again after revelations that he appointed Fenech’s business partner, Electrogas shareholder and director Paul Apap Bologna, to the Planning Authority board despite him having zero experience in the sector.
Apap Bologna put his time on the board to good use, voting in favour of approving a proposal to include Mriehel as high-rise zone. The Quad Towers, which is owned by Fenech’s Tumas Group and the Gasan Group, both of whom are part of the Electrogas consortium, was eventually built there.
Apap Bologna is also related to the Gasans through his wife, who is a shareholder in Gasan Group.
While serving as Parliamentary Secretary for Planning in 2014, Farrugia had sent an email to the Planning Authority CEO to consider Mrieħel “as an appropriate location for tall buildings with the intention to create a strategic employment node”.
The email came just hours after a half-hour meeting with Tumas Group businessman and main suspect in the assassination Yorgen Fenech.
The decision paved the way for Fenech’s Tumas Group and Gasan to file an application for the development. The application for the project was submitted a few months after the meeting.
He insists that meeting was focused on a land reclamation project and had nothing to do with the Quad Towers development.
However, Farrugia’s links to Fenech and the case do not stop there.
In one of his first testimonies in open court, middleman-turned-state-witness Melvin Theuma revealed that he was handed a no-work government job soon after arranging the price to assassinate Caruana Galizia.
He said that murder suspect Yorgen Fenech had told him to await a call from Sandro Craus, the head of customer care at Castille. Craus then invited him to Castille to meet the Prime Minister’s then-chief of staff Keith Schembri, and the middleman was granted a government job shortly afterwards.
Government records show that Theuma was employed as a messenger/driver at the Housing Maintenance Embellishment Co Ltd, a government company that falls under the Family Ministry. He was earning roughly €1,200 per month.
Farrugia was heading the Family Ministry at the time. However, he denies having any knowledge of the incident and insists it was JobsPlus who handled his employment. A magisterial inquiry has been opened.
He is facing pressure elsewhere. Farrugia was the Home Affairs Minister at the time of Caruana Galizia’s murder and was reluctant to remove then-Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar from the role.
Cutajar was removed once Prime Minister Robert Abela took office. He is now under investigation for allegedly leaking details on the case and is facing accusations of bribery.
Today, Farrugia is the Energy Minister and is directly responsible for the Electrogas deal. He will be looking over his shoulder for the time being with a Cabinet reshuffle on the cards.
Miriam Dalli is earmarked to be appointed in his place. It seems that Farrugia’s cabinet career, which includes stints as the Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, Family Minister, and Home Affairs Minister, might soon be over.
What do you think of the Minister’s links to Yorgen Fenech?