Disgraced former Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri was directly involved in ElectroGas’ negotiations to extend a €360 million state-guaranteed loan, email correspondence has revealed.
In today’s sitting of the public inquiry linked to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, parte civile lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia detailed an email sent by ElectroGas’ Franz Doefler to Schembri, Enemalta executive chairman Frederick Azzopardi, consultant David Galea, cc’ed to other ElectroGas officials, on 28th October 2017, a few days after Caruana Galizia’s assassination.
The email reads as follows:
“Following a meeting with Yorgen Fenech, we understand that the major points have been agreed to and a way forward is being drafted accordingly. EGM and our lenders require the attached technical and commercial agreements to close the refinancing process in November.”
“The attached document should be self-explanatory; without agreement on the attached our lenders have made it clear that the project is not bankable on a project finance basis. We’d appreciate a reply and direction on the way forward.”
Under questioning from Comodini Cachia, ElectroGas shareholder Mark Gasan insisted he was not aware of the email. He claimed he was not aware that main suspect and ElectroGas shareholder Yorgen Fenech was meeting Schembri to discussion the concessions.
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.
The concessions refer to a €360 million state guarantee was granted on the €450 million loan to finance the project. Defaulting on the loan, whether because of corruption allegations or financial mismanagement, would have been devastating for the country and triggered a collapse in the government.
At the time of her murder, Caruana Galizia was sitting on a treasure trove of up to 200,000 leaked documents that if and when released were set to shake the country to its core, both financially and politically.
Financial issues seemed to be imploding at ElectroGas by February 2017, with Matthew Caruana Galizia revealing that the company’s bank balance plummeted from €450 million to €100,000 by that date.
However, it seems the company was able to get an extension on its state-guaranteed €360 million loan. It also was able to get a €40 million excise tax bill of its back.
A lavish €28,000 party at Level 22, the club on the top floor of Yorgen Fenech’s Portomaso Tower, was thrown to celebrate the extension.
The 138-person guest list was filled with high-profile figures, including Muscat, his wife Michelle, Charlene Farrugia Bianco and Neville Gafa.
Electrogas’ links to the Panama Papers scandal should have been enough, with Yorgen Fenech serving as the energy deal’s main directors and shareholders.
However, 17 Black is also at the centre of a dubious deal involving the purchase of a Montenegro wind farm by Malta’s state-owned Enemalta plc.
Recent reports by Reuters and Times of Malta uncovered that the Maltese government had agreed to pay out €10.3 million for a Montenegro wind farm that had just been bought for €2.9 million two weeks prior.
According to Reuters and the Daphne Caruana Galizia foundation, the other company linked to deal, Cifidex, is connected to Turab Musayev, a former ElectroGas director.
Key ElectroGas shareholders Gasan Group recently revealed that they are pursuing an exit strategy from the project.
What do you make of the revelations?