“I feel intimidated by all of this” – Paul Apap Bologna
An attempt to toast Paul Apap Bologna on the Electrogas deal at the Public Accounts Committee again yielded very few responses, as the two-hour session was marked by four government deputies and the witness’s lawyer opposing the questions asked and accusing Opposition MPs use partisan tactics.
The committee discusses the National Audit Office report which concluded that “millions were stolen from taxpayers” over the power plant deal which was the Labor Party’s main campaign pledge in 2013.
At one point, government backbench MP Ian Castaldi Paris suggested that the witness might not think it was the right environment for the witness to answer questions. Apap Bologna quickly addressed MEPs and said: “I feel intimidated by all of this”.
His lawyer Giannella De Marco insisted on addressing the committee directly, saying the committee’s questions were “abusive” and based on “deception”. Sometimes she even answered questions on behalf of the witness despite various warnings given.
Labor MP Manuel Mallia also intervened to insist that the questions asked were “not fair”, and at one point felt the need to remind the committee that he is “a real lawyer”. President Beppe Fenech Adami replied that Apap Bologna did not need “another lawyer to defend him”.
Government MP Alex Muscat went so far as to tell opposition MPs, â€œaltament tigu titnejjku minn kolloxâ€ (a vulgar Maltese expression accusing the other side of disrespecting anything).
Labor MP and Whip Glenn Bedingfield then insisted on reviewing the law and the committee’s mandate which he then read to all. Apap Bologna and his lawyer were asked to leave the room while the committee discussed the matter.
Upon the return of Apap Bologna, he (or his lawyer) invoked his right to silence for at least 10 questions which were put to him on the reasons for which he resigned from his functions as director of Electrogas and GEM on May 12, and if it was because he had hidden his ownership of offshore company Kittiwake Ltd from the rest of the shareholders.
In the few questions posed by Apap Bologna, he said that GEM Holdings had paid Yorgen Fenech â‚¬ 1 million for â€œhis servicesâ€ to the project. He insisted that Electrogas did not make any money from the project because the financial model was based on profits at the end of the project.
When in a hurry, he mentioned that GEM received achievement fees while Electrogas received development fees. He couldn’t remember the amount. Yet an investigation by The Shift found that shareholders had paid themselves 16 million euros in “commissions” on loans granted to Electrogas on the basis of a last-minute state guarantee of several million dollars. euros.
These â€œfeesâ€ – a form of commission, typically used to pay outside advisors as a reward for obtaining funding or helping with a successful transaction – were paid a full two years before Electrogas produced any business. electricity for the first time, according to email leaks seen by The Shift.
New Energy Supply Ltd of Fenech, a minority shareholder of GEM Holdings, was to receive 2.5 million euros of these fees for “interface with the authorities” as part of a parallel agreement with GEM signed in 2014, according to the survey The Shift.
Before the committee, Apap Bologna admitted to attending the wedding in Baku, Azerbaijan, of Turab Musayev, where Fenech was also present with his wife.
Musayev, the Azerbaijani-British national who was SOCAR Trading’s representative on the Electrogas board of directors threatened to take legal action against five newsrooms in Malta, including The Shift, over their reporting on the agreement on the wind farm in Montenegro and alleged links between Musayev and Fenech who is accused of complicity in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.