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Montenegro government ‘sloppy’ in its cover up of corruption in wind farm deal

As the Maltese Energy Minister publishes agreements, the government of Montenegro breaks its silence to issue denials while rejecting an investigation on the deal in parliament for the second time.

Joseph Muscat led the delegation in Montenegro that included Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
Joseph Muscat led the delegation in Montenegro that included Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

Srdjan Milic, an independent Montenegrin MP who has written to PN MP Jason Azzopardi and PN MEP David Casa to assist the inquiry committee planned to be set up to investigate the Mozura wind farm scandal in Montenegro, has told The Shift the government was “sloppy” in its cover up of corruption in the deal.

He referred to a statement by the Economy Ministry in Montenegro which denied knowledge of those involved in the deal, despite published government agreements that prove otherwise. Milic told The Shift that top government officials in Montenegro were involved in the Mozura project which media reports have confirmed: “has been tainted by allegations of corruption from the start”.

“The consequences of that corruption will be borne by Montenegrin and Maltese taxpayers,” Milic said.

“It’s impossible that the Ministry of Economy has no knowledge of its own documents which have also been published in Malta. The government officials are very sloppy in the cover up of this corruption scandal linked to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia,” he added.

Enemalta admitted it paid €10.3 million for the acquisition of the Mozura wind park only two weeks after another company had purchased the shares for just €3.5 million.

On Monday, Energy Minister Michael Farrugia tabled the controversial Enemalta agreements regarding the acquisition of the Mozura wind park in Montenegro as Montenegrin officials denied all knowledge of offshore companies participating in the questionable transfers of funds.

The Montenegrin Ministry of Economy said last week the statement was issued “to remove all doubts as some try to stitch up a link between the Montenegrin institutions and the alleged corruption scandals in Malta, Spain, Montenegro and various offshore destinations”.

The deal was enabled and carried out through two offshore companies, Cifidex Ltd in the Seychelles and 17 Black Ltd in Dubai, which helped conceal suspicious money transactions going on between the Maltese and the Montenegrin sides.

The web of companies involved in the Mozura wind farm deal. Graphic: Jovo Martinovic.

The Ministry in Montenegro said it “had no information about the alleged involvement of offshore companies 17 Black and Cifidex in the transfer of shares from the earlier concessionaire to the new one”.

The Montenegrin Ministry further said that it “never had any contact with the said companies, let alone signed any kind of contract”.

Yet Cifidex was earlier listed in a number of documents published by the Government of Montenegro itself, including the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) between Enemalta and Cifidex, which was published by Montenegro’s Ministry of Finance (Tax Administration Department).

Excerpt from Tax filings uploaded by the Montenegrin Government clearly showing Fersa transferring its shares in the Mozura Wind Park to Cifidex.

In Malta, too, officials have denied knowledge of 17 Black’s involvement, owned by Yorgen Fenech who is accused of having commissioned Caruana Galizia’s murder.

The presence of Cifidex in Finance Ministry documents is further supported by information published in the Official Gazette of Montenegro where Cifidex was briefly registered as the holder of the Mozura concession.

Despite Montenegrin laws requiring parliamentary oversight over transfers in concessions, this transfer from Fersa to Cifidex, before being transferred yet again to Enemalta, was seemingly ignored by the Montenegrin Parliament.

Malta acted as “a Trojan horse” in the deal for a wind farm that ended up being owned by China, and includes the involvement of Azerbaijan, columnist Ranier Fsadni pointed out, adding that all four countries in the deal have a well-deserved reputation for systemic corruption right at the top.

The Government of Montenegro has recently been criticised by the Montenegrin independent press and opposition parties in parliament, who have invited Maltese Opposition members Azzopardi and Casa to assist in an inquiry into the agreement in parliament in Montenegro.

Yet, the proposal was shot down for a second time in the Montenegrin parliament on Tuesday.

Montenegro is an EU candidate country and the European Commission has encouraged this debate and inquiry, reminding officials in Montenegro that the rule of law is a pillar of democracy in the EU.

Yet on Tuesday night, the motion presented by the majority of Opposition members in parliament was just ignored. Milic told The Shift this was “expected”.

There were no grounds for the rejection, he added. “They simply ignored us (the Opposition) and (Ivan) Brajovic (the Speaker of the House) wouldn’t even read our motion as he was bound to do in accordance with protocol rules. This is expected but we will carry on the fight and we’ll find the way and means to fully disclose this rotten deal”.

Additional reporting by Jovo Martinovic.

The investigation into the Montenegro wind farm deal was made possible with the support of journalismfund.eu

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