Matthew Caruana Galizia called on the European Union to establish an FBI-style police organisation to tackle cross-border crime, arguing that such a move could prevent other journalists from suffering the fate of his mother, the late Daphne Caruana Galizia.
“The EU is like how the USA was in the 19th century before the FBI was set up, when it was basically a Wild West where everyone did what they wanted,” Caruana Galizia said. “It’s very difficult to tackle cross-border crime and I think it’s time to start a discussion about supranational collaborative policing, with judicial authority, within the EU.”
“Not like Europol, which is a political body and which basically functions as a call centre. That doesn’t work, and this is why we’re in this situation, with our various political systems corrupted by Azerbaiajn and journalists being assassinated. We need to prevent things form reaching this stage.”
Caruana Galizia was addressing a public hearing of the European Parliament’s TAX 3 committee, along with Reuters and Daphne Project journalist Stephen Grey, who last year helped break the news that the secret Dubai company 17 Black belongs to Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech.
In his speech, he described Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Keith Schembri, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, Yorgen Fenech, and Azeri state-owned energy company Socar as “forming part of an organised criminal conspiracy, created to illegally profit from the privatisation of Malta’s energy sector.”
This is his theory.
Matthew Caruana Galizia accused Joseph Muscat of forming part of an organised criminal conspiracy
“In 2013, these people operated as part of a broader effort around Joseph Muscat’s official campaign to privatise Malta’s energy sector and grant the national power generation contract to a private monopoly that would operate a gas-powered turbine. The stated political goal was to reduce electricity bills.”
“Following Joseph Muscat’s election to power, the deal was awarded by opaque public tender to a business consortium incorporated as ElectroGas Malta Ltd in a process widely perceived as having been corrupted.”
“The selection board for this public tender was officially chaired by Brian Tonna, the private accountant of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.”
“In private briefings I have held with state intelligence officials of other EU member states, they have described this deal as completely corrupt with 100% certainty.”
“Using a credit line that is guaranteed by the Maltese government, ElectroGas is bound by an undisclosed deal to purchase gas from Azerbaijan’s state oil company at double the market rate. The Maltese public wasn’t given the choice of buying cheaper electricity from the existing Malta-Sicily interconnecter, which instead served as back-up during frequent failures at the gas powered plant.”
“Now Socar owns 33% of ElectroGas via a Swiss company. Each year, it buys an estimated 14 million units of gas from Royal Dutch Shell, paying an estimated $113 million for shipment at prices fixed by international market rates. It then sells ElectroGas that same amount of gas but charges $153 million, meaning it pockets $43 million on every transaction for doing absolutely nothing.”
“Enemalta plc, a state company, and ElectroGas, then convert the gas into electricity and distribute it to consumers, who have no choice because it’s a monopoly.”
“Over the duration of the gas supply agreement, $1 billion will leave the Maltese economy as profit for the state of Azerbaijan.”
“Internal invoices and correspondences between ElectroGas shareholders show that the gas shaped to Malta is sourced from natural gas fields in Trinidad and Tobago by Shell. Socar plays the unnecessary role of the middleman, ships no actual gas from Azerbaijan, and generates huge profits that are embezzled by the family of the president of Azerbaijan. Those same profits were ultimately destined for the bank accounts of Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.”
“The terms of the agreement that guaranteed these profits for the state of Azerbaijan were orchestrated by Mizzi, Schembri and Muscat. The terms of the agreements were never disclosed to the public, but in early 2017 I began providing technical support to my mother, who was in the process of receiving correspondence, invoices, contracts and internal records from a whistleblower within ElectroGas.”
“I communicated with the whistleblower via my mother in order to receive large transfers, amounting to hundreds of gigabytes of emails between ElectroGas shareholders and scanned documents, after establishing prima facie that criminal and ethical violations were being committed by the shareholders.”
“In the six months leading up to her assassination, my mother published articles based on information passed on by the whistleblower. Further correspondence showed shareholders of Socar Trading discussing the published articles with other shareholders of ElectroGas in a manner that indicated significant alarm. At this point, I took over direct communication with the whistleblower from my mother.”
A shift in the burden of proof for libel cases
Caruana Galizia also used the occasion to call for a change in Malta’s libel laws, so that the burden of proof doesn’t rest entirely with the journalists being sued for libel.
“For example, all my mother’s libels have now been passed on to her heirs, but the magistrate and plaintiffs know we cannot produce the key witness, because she has been killed. Because of this, under Maltese law, we will lose the cases upon default because the burden of proof is on us.”
“The plaintiff need present no evidence, just file an application without any evidence and they’ll win by default. This is the structural problem with Malta’s libel system and unless this key reversal of the burden of proof is changed, the problem will remain.”
Caruana Galizia recounted how hotelier Silvio Debono had once filed 19 libel suits against his mother over a single blogpost.
“He had to present no evidence at all, and unless my mother left all gainful employment and spent five years fighting these cases, she’d have lost her house, her money, her inheritance, her car, her savings, everything…”