What an incredibly generous thing you did, paying Electrogas’ excise tax bill so Yorgen Fenech, the Gasan family and the Apap Bolognas could make more money.
After all, €46.5 million is no small sacrifice.
I know you could have done a lot with that. Funded public health, for example, or built social housing.
But squeezing 9.8% profit rather than 7% out of a power station no one needed makes a big difference to the Fenechs, Gasans, and Apap Bolognas, not to mention Siemens and SOCAR.
Okay, yes, it wasn’t exactly your decision to put these ‘first families’ first.
Konrad Mizzi took care of that when he unilaterally “fixed” the Electrogas tax “problem” using your money.
Fixing things is what Konnie does.
So what was the “problem”? Electrogas owed Customs an awful lot of money and they didn’t want to pay it.
I’m sure we can all relate. I hate getting my annual tax bill, too. And I’ve felt that unpleasant tightening in my stomach when a letter arrives from Revenue Canada or the German Finanzamt outside the normal tax season.
No one in their right mind wants to have a problem with those guys, so we pay our tax bill on time.
It never occurred to me to just call up my pet government Minister and tell him to make my tax bill go away. But I guess that’s because I’ve never had a Minister in my pocket.
To be fair, it’s not strictly ‘generosity’ when Mizzi couldn’t say no. That’s the thing about corruption. Once you’ve taken dirty money, the other party has something on you, and you get pulled in deeper and deeper.
Mizzi had to agree to make your State Utility company (Enemalta) eat a private company’s massive tax bill because he was caught up in the power station scam, too.
Look back at the last three years and you’ll see that each new problem that threatened to derail their gravy train was solved with some fresh improvisation. We’re watching those bodged together solutions come apart right now in the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry.
So yeah, Mizzi couldn’t say no. Not without potentially exposing his own corrupt role in the deal. Illegal State aid be damned.
But it’s more than that, isn’t it? Because Mizzi had placed all his chips on 17 Black.
He had to make the tax bill go away because the power station Malta didn’t need had to stay afloat. Otherwise the roadmap to riches they worked so hard on would fall apart, and the dream of easy money would fade away for Mizzi, Schembri and Muscat.
And so the Miracle Minister who brought you Vitals Global Healthcare sat down and sorted it all out in a nice quiet meeting with Yorgen Fenech on 28 October 2017.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that this took place 11 days after Caruana Galizia was murdered with a massive car bomb, after having received a very large cache of leaked emails on that same Electrogas project.
The original agreement signed by Electrogas in 2015 was supposed to include excise tax, and now it doesn’t, thanks to a little Mizzi Magic. You picked up the tab for them by paying higher rates to Enemalta.
Sure, it’s not “EU Commission approved”, as they like to claim. But the Commission was brushed aside with a few lies, too (click on the image below to read the full thread).
On 11 January 2017, @EU_Commission approved the ElectroGas project for State Aid by Enemalta (the SoSA). One of the grounds was that the envisaged profit did not permit overcompensation. The EC also noted that payment was fixed. 1/https://t.co/HCgGH5yvOX pic.twitter.com/FG6NcI7V2J
— BugM (@bugdavem) September 9, 2020
Besides, these guys had already weathered worse crises than a massive excise tax dispute with Customs.
Bankruptcy, for example.
Yes, we’ve learned from that massive Electrogas data leak that the entire venture was verging on bankruptcy before it had even generated anything, thanks to completely inept management and too many sticky fingers in the till.
It doesn’t help when you’re paying Azerbaijan inflated prices for fuel they don’t produce. The ship was floundering, and desperate solutions were needed.
And so Muscat & Company forced your banks to guarantee a massive ‘bridge loan’ of €360 million to make sure Electrogas stayed above water just long enough to lure a few investors using the “Security of Supply Agreement” signed by Mizzi and Fenech on behalf of Malta and Electrogas.
Yes, it was a desperate risk to take. If Electrogas had gone under — if, say, the investors found out about its dire financial situation and ran for the hills — then your government would have been on the hook for the astronomical debts of a private company.
We’re not just talking goodbye “best in Europe” in that case, and and end to “Joseph puts money in my pocket”.
No, at that point it’s time to call in the IMF. Malta will have entered Argentine territory.
You can imagine their panic when Fenech, Mizzi, Schembri and Muscat found out Caruana Galizia had all the Electrogas emails and was busy sifting through them.
She’d already smelled the stink of that fishy bridge loan guarantee. How long before she wrote that the entire idiotic project was bankrupt, and scared off the lenders they so desperately needed to pull their Roadmap to Personal Riches through?
Someone had to shut this irritating journalist up before she did any more damage to their plans. You know what happened.
So yeah, a €46.5 million excise tax bill wasn’t a difficult problem to solve. Not when you’re supported by an entire bureaucracy of enablers.
Leaked emails reveal the Minister in the Office of the Crime Minister had a little help from the woman who is now your Attorney General.
Victoria Buttigieg agreed with Electrogas’ lawyers and ruled that Mizzi’s signature on the Security of Supply deal was enough, and they could bypass parliament (email above). Keep in mind, this happened long after the disgraced minister was exposed in the Panama Papers.
Those same emails also show that the Eletrogas lawyers dictated the terms that the then Assistant Attorney General signed off on.
When external regulators like MONEYVAL insisted Malta become more ‘compliant’, this wasn’t what they had in mind.
It helps to have a Cabinet that was happy not to be consulted so they could look the other way. They’re all now using the Scicluna Defence — an iron-clad tactic in Malta — that says, “It wasn’t my job, it was his. Besides, I saw nothing.”
And what of the doddering Finance Minister, the man whose department was responsible for guarding the public purse?
The self-described ‘Mr No’ washed his hands of responsibility for this one too, just like he washed his hands of everything else.
The only thing he clutches with any vigour is his salary. Try prying Slow Eddie’s fingers off his paycheque and see how strong his grip is.
Scicluna told the public inquiry, “Whoever wants to hijack a system, it is that person who is responsible. I am not.”
And as for the €46.5 million euro gift to Electrogas — and by extension, to Malta’s richest families — your Finance Minister ran away from that, too.
“In business you give and you receive,” he said, “and that’s what was given”.
In adding, “Everyone is responsible for their own actions,” Scicluna forgets that choosing not to act is also a deliberate decision.