Information tabled in parliament on Wednesday revealed that an additional €150,000 in tenders and another €10,000 in direct orders were awarded to Fieldsports Ltd, the company owned by arms dealer James Fenech.
Earlier in May, The Shift reported that Fenech has received some €1 million in government direct orders to provide firearms, gear, and ammunition to the Armed Forces of Malta and the police since 2015, as well as tens of thousands of euro in government tenders since to supply ammunition and firearms to the police force since the same year.
Now, new information on tabled in parliament shows that in addition to that amount, another €160,000 was awarded to Fenech’s company between the 2014 and 2015 for ammunition and arms supplies to the Malta police forces and Armed Forces (AFM) in the form of tenders and direct orders.
Fenech and his company stepped into the public eye in April when, together with another four men, he was charged with violating Libyan sanctions after exporting two military-grade Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) to Libya through another of his companies, Sovereign Charterers. He has denied the accusations.
It is still unclear whether this is the full extent of government contracts awarded to the company due to persistent information gaps as government ministries regularly fail to publish complete lists of public procurement purchases within the given time frame, despite the law stipulating otherwise.
Particularly noteworthy, was that in the information tabled by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri in reply to the query by Nationalist Party MP Jason Azzopardi, it was noted that in 2014 and 2015 the AFM published two tenders for the supply of ammunition which were not awarded following evaluation by the AFM appointed board.
The note specifically singles out Fieldsport Ltd and explains that it was not awarded the evaluation as it was classified by the board as ‘technically non-compliant’. No other details are provided.
Set in the main square of Mellieha, Fenech’s shop Fieldsports Ltd may seem like a small village shop catering to the needs of its hunting community, but in actual fact, it forms part of an international business group which has become a quasi-monopoly as one of the EU’s most important arms dealers particularly since Libya’s uprising.
It is one of the few suppliers in the EU accredited to sell lethal weapons on EU soil for private users, according to reports presented to the European Parliament.
This website had revealed the names of the other four men who were charged for violating sanctions alongside Fenech – brothers Bertrand Agius, 47, (a delivery man) and Konrad Agius, 44, (a government blacksmith) and pensioners Charles Bugeja, 63, and Michael Cauchi, 45, who both reside in Mellieha. They all denied the accusations and were given bail by Magistrate Victor Axiak.
Fenech’s work has repeatedly made international headlines. His organisation made its mark in recent years supplying weapons to private security firms working for the EU, partnering also with Erik Prince, a former US Navy SEAL officer and the founder of Blackwater – a controversial US private military company that was given unclassified security contracts from the CIA during the Iraq war.