David Galea, Konrad Mizzi’s childhood friend, was given more than 35 lucrative direct orders for ‘consultancy’ between 2013 and 2019, with a total value of over €1 million paid from State coffers, an exercise conducted by The Shift News can reveal.
The Shift revealed how BEAT Ltd, a company Galea owns with Philip A Tabone whose son, Anthony, has been Malta’s Consul-General in Dubai since 2003, was given a direct order of €6,000 to review the report by the National Audit Office (NAO) on the Electrogas deal – a deal Galea was himself involved in through the various positions he occupied at different stages from concept to construction, and so effectively reviewing his own decisions.
The findings led to calls by the Opposition for the withdrawal of the contract on the grounds that it would amount to nothing more than a cover-up of the NAO’s findings.
Further research by The Shift shows Galea has made a killing out of government handouts and direct orders since Labour returned to power in 2013. Together with BEAT Consultancy, the firm which Galea founded, Galea received over €1 million in direct orders.
The raft of direct orders dished out through various government ministries and agencies started being rolled out just a few days after the 2013 election, initially to BEAT Consultancy (David Galea) and from November 2015 to BEAT Ltd, where Galea was joined by Philip Tabone as shareholder.
Tabone, a veteran businessman in the provision of construction material, was never involved in any consultancy services before.
In the same month that BEAT Ltd was set up, it was awarded a lucrative direct order by Minister Konrad Mizzi on a multi-million plan to relocate the Institute of Tourism Studies to Smart City. At the time, Tabone’s son, Anthony (the Consul General to Dubai) was also occupying the role of CEO at Smart City.
Research compiled from public documents by The Shift shows that the Galea-Tabone consultancy followed closely most of the major controversial projects where Mizzi was involved. Galea also played a central role in the selection of Electrogas to build the €400 million controversial gas power plant as well as the implementation of the project.
Over the years, BEAT Ltd was tasked to provide expertise on a number of highly specialised areas which normally require many different experts to supply a holistic service. These included ‘expertise services’ on electricity generation, gas prices, engineering, project management, ticketing systems, oil and gas projects, hospitals, immigration, films and blockchain, among others.
Projects Malta – a government entity formed by Labour to coordinate Private Public Partnerships on behalf of the government and controlled by Mizzi – become one of BEAT’s major clients with direct orders awarded every few weeks, mostly for unspecified projects.
Under Mizzi’s tenure, BEAT Ltd was also given hundreds of thousands in ‘consultancies’ by Enemalta, Arms Ltd and Water Services Corporation.
Former Economy Minister Chris Cardona was another main contributor to the rapid rise of the Galea-Tabone boutique consultancy firm.
Cardona, who was not reappointed to Cabinet following Joseph Muscat’s departure, despite being Labour’s deputy leader, gave BEAT Ltd direct orders either through his control over Malta Enterprise and Malta Industrial Parks or directly through his Ministry.
During his Ministerial stint, Cardona made frequent visits to Dubai where he was hosted by Consul General Anthony Tabone, Philip’s son.
These included a trip in September 2015 when Cardona was Tabone’s guest at a party thrown for Maltese in Dubai celebrating the anniversary of Malta’s Independence Day.
An audit by the NAO later found that during the three-day Dubai visit, the government forked out more than €750 for alcohol consumed from the bar of one of the hotel rooms occupied by Cardona’s entourage. Following an uproar, Cardona had said that his personal assistant Mario Azzopardi was responsible for the bill.
Cardona had also appointed Anthony Tabone as Malta’s Commissioner responsible for Malta’s participation in the EXPO 2020, scheduled to be held in Dubai later this year, now postponed due to the COVID|-19 emergency.