The owner of the secret company Macbridge has been named as Tang Zhaomin, the mother-in-law of Chen Cheng, a negotiator involved in multi-million euro Enemalta deals, The Times of Malta and Reuters have reported.
Macbridge was one of two companies, along with Yorgen Fenech’s 17 Black, listed in the Panama Papers as a target client for the offshore companies of Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
Fenech has told police that ‘Macbridge’ stood for ‘Malta and China bridge’, and today’s revelation indicates he may have been correct.
Times of Malta and its reporting partners Reuters, OCCRP and Süddeutsche Zeitung found corporate documents showing Macbridge is owned by Chen’s mother-in-law through a Seychelles company that was registered by Mossack Fonseca, the now-defunct law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal.
Corporate documents in Hong Kong also show that Wang Rui, Tang Zhaomin’s business partner in a Chinese Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, set up a company called Dow Media at almost the exact same time Macbridge was set up.
A summary of 17 Black’s transactions show Dow Media had received €1 million from Fenech’s company in 2016.
Approached by Reuters reporters, Wang said the company was intended to do “media-type work” and that Chen had asked her to front it on his behalf. He told he couldn’t set it up by himself because of his links to a state-owned company.
Both Macbridge and Dow Media were dissolved in January 2019, two months after Fenech was revealed to be the owner of 17 Black.