REVEALED: Konrad Mizzi signature on hidden LNG agreement raises red flag

Minister Konrad Mizzi personally signed the agreement between the Government of Malta and SOCAR Trading for the supply of liquified natural gas (LNG) to the Electrogas power station for 18 years.

Details emerged in a recently-leaked FIAU report that MEP David Casa presented to a magistrate, which concluded that Konrad Mizzi should be investigated by the police for money laundering.

During an investigation which led to the 128-page report, Malta’s anti-money laundering agency had found that the agreement on the supply of LNG to the new power station was personally signed by Konrad Mizzi.

The government has kept this agreement hidden from the public, but the FIAU had questioned Konrad Mizzi’s personal interest in the deal that gave SOCAR exclusivity on the supply of LNG to the power station for the next 18 years.

The anti-money laundering agency also found that this agreement appeared to have been tampered with because of a number of anomalies, such as the lack of page numbers on the agreement and text that appeared to have been scanned and converted from a pdf version of the original agreement.

The agreement was signed by Konrad Mizzi on behalf of the Government of Malta on the one hand, and by Arzu Azimov and Emil Bayramli appearing on behalf of SOCAR Trading, which is the marketing arm of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), the leaked report shows.

It is not clear why Konrad Mizzi should have signed this agreement when the gas supply from SOCAR would be bought by the private operators of Electrogas. His personal interest in closing the deal raised the FIAU’s suspicions.

This agreement was among those that were not published by the government when it eventually published heavily redacted versions of the Enemalta agreements with huge chunks of text blacked out.

In its report, the FIAU said it was “informed that this is the only agreement in relation to the whole energy project to which Konrad Mizzi (on behalf of the Government of Malta) is directly party”.

Konrad Mizzi signed this agreement on 14 April, 2015. No signatures for Azimov and Bayramli appear in the agreement.

MEP David Casa told The Shift News: “The priority for Konrad Mizzi since taking office appears to have been how much he could pocket. We are no longer talking about attempted corruption and money laundering.  This IS corruption and money laundering”.

David Casa said he was aware that the international team of investigative journalists were also in possession of a report that contained information tallying with the report in his possession.

Azerbaijan connections

SOCAR Trading was set up as the marketing arm of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR).

It has exclusive rights for 18 years to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the power station built by ElectroGas – a three-way consortium in which SOCAR Trading is also involved together with Germany’s Siemens and Maltese joint venture GEM Holdings.

According to SOCAR Trading’s website: “The Azerbaijani government has a major role in [the] growth of SOCAR’s participation in the LNG market and the company is supported by the Energy Ministry and other relevant authorities”.

The floating storage unit (FSU), Armada, arrived in Malta in October 10, 2016 amid controversy.

When the Labour Party was voted into power in 2013, one of the first countries the government built relations with was Azerbaijan. Questions were raised when news emerged on a visit to Azerbaijan in December 2014 attended by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Keith Schembri, Minister Konrad Mizzi and the government’s head of communications Kurt Farrugia. The press was not invited to attend, which the Prime Minister had said was “an oversight”.

Links with the country continued to emerge over the years, thanks in large part to the work of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Apart from the Azerbaijani State company’s involvement in the new Delimara power station, and the government’s 18-year obligation to purchase natural gas to fuel it from an Azerbaijani state-owned entity, President Aliyev’s daughter was linked to a dubious company in Malta that was used to rake in funds from the Azerbaijani telecommunications market.

Azeri billionaire Mübariz Mansimov, listed by Forbes as one of the richest people in the world, is linked to over 100 Maltese companies as part of his Palmali shipping group while a Maltese shell company has featured as one of the vehicles used in a network of holding companies to house the financial interests of Ilham Aliyev’s daughters in the country’s largest mobile phone business, Azercell.

Assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia had revealed that a company owned by President Aliyev’s daughter – Leyla Aliyeva – made ‘loan payments’ to Hearnville, Egrant and Tillgate, the trio of companies exposed in the Panama Papers linked to the government’s top rank. The government has denied the assertions.

The ownership of Egrant has been the subject of a criminal magisterial inquiry for almost a year, after Daphne Caruana Galizia published declarations of trust that showed Egrant shares were held for the Prime Minister’s wife, Michelle Muscat.

Daphne Caruana Galizia had also reported a transaction of US$1.017 million to Egrant from a bank account that belonged to Leyla Aliyeva.

Revelations on account holders at Pilatus Bank, whose owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was arrested in the US on money-laundering and evading US sanctions, also showed the bank’s clients are predominantly politically-exposed persons (PEPs) from Azerbaijan, including President Aliyev’s two children and his minister for emergency situations Kamaleddin Heydarov.

Azerbaijani oligarchs consider Malta to be “one of its provinces” according to an extensive report into how the South Caucasus nation uses “caviar diplomacy” to buy the influence of Western politicians.

Note to our readers: Following the publication of this article, the DOI apparently sent a press release to the media in response, which – not to our surprise – we did not receive (the government hasn’t included The Shift News in its mailing list). Alex Cutajar, one of Mizzi’s persons of trust (we assume) was annoyed that we did not publish it. We won’t bore you by reproducing his virtual foot-stamping. The press release on Mizzi’s response can be read in full on the DOI site (click here).



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