James Camenzuli, who was named in two investigations by the Auditor General on shady multi-million euro deals signed by the Labour government, has been reappointed to chair the energy and water regulator (REWS) despite Prime Minister Robert Abela’s pledge of ‘zero tolerance’ to wrongdoing.
Camezuli, an engineer, was one of the closest collaborators of disgraced former Minister Konrad Mizzi on various projects, including the public hospitals’ deal with Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) and the City Centre project (Silvio Debono’s controversial development on the former ITS site at St George’s Bay).
Sources at REWS told The Shift that after the conclusions of the NAO reports on both the VGH and the ITS deals, in which Camenzuli featured prominently, they expected the government to stop him from chairing the entity, entrusted with the disbursement of millions in renewable energy schemes.
Yet Energy Minister Michael Farrugia, a doctor by profession, has confirmed Camenzuli will retain the role, despite internal opposition at the regulator.
Considered as one of the key individuals Mizzi relied on for implementation, Camenzuli was catapulted to power as the disgraced former Minister was given important roles on key projects by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
When appearing before the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, Camenzuli claimed that he could not recall whether the Board had run thorough due diligence on the owners of VGH.
In 2014, Camenzuli was appointed CEO of the Foundation for Medical Services (FMS), on a person of trust basis.
As soon as Mizzi lost his health portfolio, because of his involvement in the Panama Papers debacle, Camenzuli ‘followed’ the minister and was appointed as Executive Chairman of Projects Malta – the State vehicle used to negotiate controversial multi-million euro deals.
Three public hospitals were passed on to VGH in a 30-year concession worth €2 billion. It failed, in line with every prediction, and the concession was sold to Steward Healthcare for only €1 while millions changed hands.
Projects Malta, again under the helm of Camenzuli, also negotiated the scandalous deal through which the former ITS site, with a market price tag of over €200 million was passed on to Silvio Debono for just €15 million.
While Transport Minister Ian Borg stripped Camenzuli of his position as chairman of Projects Plus – a State entity responsible for public-private partnerships and project management – he was still retained as CEO of the same entity, enjoying a financial package of over €90,000 a year.
In two separate investigations by the NAO Camenzuli is repeatedly mentioned as playing a crucial role in the manoeuvrings used by Mizzi to greenlight these deals.
In both instances, Mizzi had appointed Camenzuli to chair evaluation and negotiation committees to conclude both the VGH and the ITS deal.
In both projects, the NAO found serious irregularities in the processes used pointing out infringements of procedures in the evaluation and negotiation exercises lead by committees appointed by Mizzi.
Meanwhile, Katrine Borg Cardona, married to Mizzi’s lawyer and appointee to various State entities, Aron Mifsud Bonnici, was also reappointed to serve as a director of the ‘independent’ water and energy regulator.