A scandal involving a Montenegro wind farm has brought down former Energy Minister and “star candidate” Konrad Mizzi, but what did Daphne Caruana Galizia have to say about this deal when it was signed five years ago?
It was actually the now-assassinated journalist who had brought this deal to the attention of the Maltese public on 12th November 2015, a day after it was published in the Montenegrin press.
“The government of Montenegro tells us what Konrad Mizzi is up to this time,” Caruana Galizia wrote. “So much for the most transparent government in the history of Malta. To find out a fraction of what it is up to, we have to trawl the internet for snippets on the official news sites of the governments of other countries.”
This report said Mizzi had held a meeting in Podgorica with his Montenegrin counterpart Vladimir Kravaric, during which it was agreed that Enemalta will purchase a wind plant in Mozura.
“We are pleased that a reputable company from an EU country is interested in investing in the energy sector and wind power plant projects in Montenegro,” Kravaric was quoted as saying.
An hour after Caruana Galizia published this information, Mizzi issued a statement to confirm Enemalta and its Chinese state-owned partner Shanghai Electric Power are pursuing a wind farm project in Montenegro.
“Almost an hour after I uploaded on this website information made public yesterday by the government of Montenegro, wondering out loud why we have to get information from some other country’s government about what Konrad Mizzi is up to, the Department of Information in the Office of the Prime Minister has released this to the press,” she wrote.
The report said the government of Montenegro had approved the transfer of land on 3rd September and that a joint venture company will be established between the shareholders who will develop the wind project in the coming weeks.
Back then, the wind farm was still owned by Fersa & Čelebić, a Spanish-Montenegrin consortium which had been given a concession to develop the wind farm back in 2010.
This was before a transfer of shares in the wind farm which, as reported by Reuters and Times of Malta, saw Fenech’s Dubai company 17 Black earn €4.6 million.
Although Caruana Galizia didn’t have this information, she clearly smelled a rat, describing it as “a very fishy deal with a fishy state”.
She also noted that the deal was signed amidst a period of political turmoil in Montenegro, which saw thousands of protestors take to the streets to demand the resignation of then Prime Minister Milo Djukanović.
Two months later, Caruana Galizia wrote about how the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project had in 2015 named Djukanović as person of the year in organised crime and corruption.
“The Prime Minister and his henchman, Konrad Mizzi, are currently wheeling and dealing with Montenegro,” she wrote. “So it will come as no surprise when I tell you that Montenegro’s Milo Djukanović was the recipient last year of the Organized Crime and Corruption ‘Person of the Year’ Award.”
Malta’s former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat would end up winning that same award in 2019, in no small part due to the assassination of Caruana Galizia.
In a blogpost in January 2016, Caruana Galizia wrote that Muscat and his “corrupt henchman” Konrad Mizzi “get to stay because nobody’s following the money trail from Baku, Beijing and now possibly even Algiers and Montenegro, all the way to some hidden bank account.”
Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, the lawyer of the Caruana Galizia family, has now suggested in Parliament that the journalist was killed to stop her exposing the Montenegro wind farm scandal.
“There’s so much more that needs to come out about Montenegro,” he said.