The Office of Prime Minister Robert Abela has remained mum on whether the authorities will investigate corruption allegations revealed by The Shift linked to the Mozura wind farm energy project negotiated by former Minister Konrad Mizzi and fronted by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in Montenegro.
Last week, this website published an in-depth investigation into the project which was haunted by allegations of corruption from day one. Intermediaries involved in the Montenegro project told The Shift that members of the government “found the people of their kind in Malta who they could do business with and split the proceeds”.
The Shift uncovered a complex set up of offshore companies behind the project, the likes of which have now become the trademark of every deal negotiated by Mizzi with Muscat and Keith Schembri, his former chief of staff.
All three were forced to resign in Malta following revelations of links to the suspected mastermind behind journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. Muscat’s last official visit was to launch the project in Montenegro in November 2019, while people were protesting in the streets on almost a daily basis calling for their resignation.
Questions sent to OPM Head of Communications Matthew Carbone last week remain unanswered despite reminders. The Shift asked whether the OPM had looked into the reports on corruption surrounding the project, what questions have been asked, and whether an investigation will take place.
Muscat and then energy minister Konrad Mizzi had struck the deal with the Montenegrins in the autumn of 2015. The entire investment was reported to be worth €90 million, a considerable jump from the original €65 million which the government of Montenegro had initially signed with Barcelona-based Fersa Energia Renovables in 2010 for the very same deal.
The Shift also revealed that the project, originally sold to the Montenegrins as an investment from an EU Member State (Malta), was effectively controlled by China through Enemalta, which transferred the Public Private Partnership concession to a China-dominated consortium.
According to contracts seen by The Shift, the Montenegrins are bound to buy electricity from Mozura at three times the price of normal electricity – just as Mizzi’s Electrogas deal in Malta bound the country to buy LNG from Azerbaijani State-owned company SOCAR for 18 years at rates that are double market prices.
While the Maltese government remains silent on corruption allegations involving its inner core, The Shift’s investigation has been carried the country’s largest daily newspaper, DAN. The Shift and DAN will continue to cooperate on further investigations into the deal.
The findings in Montenegro have reignited questions about why Muscat appointed a close personal friend, Karl Izzo, as ambassador to the country in January 2019. The appointment was widely criticised since Izzo has no diplomatic experience.
The concerns are also relevant in view of Vitals Global Healthcare and, later, Steward Healthcare’s approaches in Montenegro through the involvement of Castille-linked operators such as Shaukat Ali Abdul Ghafoor. The previous ambassador had been central to agreements on the country’s hospitals signed in Montenegro – similar to the deal in Malta.