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Konrad Mizzi’s trips to Montenegro and the birth of a dirty energy deal

Konrad Mizzi flew to Montenegro eight times in a period of two years, at a time when controversial deals on energy and health were being negotiated.

Former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi in Montenegro with Montenegrin Economy Minister Vladimir Kavaric.
Former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi in Montenegro with Montenegrin Economy Minister Vladimir Kavaric.

Former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi visited Montenegro no less than eight times in two years while controversial deals in the health and energy sectors – both facing allegations of corruption – were being negotiated, according to information tabled in parliament.

Most of these visits were held between 2014 and 2015, at a time when Konrad Mizzi was still Energy Minister. In 2016, he accompanied former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to sign an energy cooperation agreement with the Economy Minister of Montenegro.

An investigation by The Shift on the energy deal involving a wind farm in Mozura showed the project was haunted by allegations of corruption from the start.

It was the focus of Muscat’s last official trip as prime minister in November 2019 when citizens were protesting on the streets demanding his removal. The project was so important to Muscat that he abandoned chaos at home to launch the €90 million project.

Intermediaries involved in the 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”.

Documents seen by The Shift showed agreements on kickbacks amid allegations of corruption involving top politicians in Montenegro.

The minister was accompanied by a private secretary, an advisor and an Enemalta official on most of these visits. In 2015, the Permanent Secretary also joined, according to information tabled in parliament.

No independent journalists were invited to any of the trips.

The investigation by The Shift uncovered an elaborate set up of offshore companies behind the project, a pattern now synonymous with almost every deal negotiated by Mizzi, Muscat and Keith Schembri, Muscat’s former chief of staff.

All three were forced to resign following revelations of links to the suspected mastermind behind journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

Robert Abela has remained silent on findings in Montenegro. Questions sent to his office asking whether law enforcement authorities would investigate the scandal on the Mozura wind farm project have remained unanswered.

The energy deal followed cooperation between the two countries in another sector – hospitals.

When Vitals Global Healthcare was seeking a bailout in Malta, it was pitching the success of the project to politicians in Montenegro. A deal that Steward Healthcare then sealed.

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