The first licence issued by the government for the production of medical cannabis in Malta has been given to a company drawn to the island by Paul Apap Bologna, the main promoter of the scandalous Electrogas deal.
The Shift is informed that Apap Bologna’s pharmaceutical business has already made a killing out of this deal with Canadian firm Aphria Inc. Yet he has stepped down from the board of directors of the Malta registered company that will be using the cannabis licence, Nuuvera Malta Ltd.
The only Maltese now sitting on the board of Nuuvera is Mark Magri, known as Il-Giggs, a former promoter at G7 (an events company) and for years a marketing advisor at the OPM for disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Research conducted by The Shift shows the Canadian company, which bought into a Maltese company some two years ago, is still operating from premises owned by Apap Bologna’s organisation – Associated Drugs Company in Mriehel.
Asked to confirm his resignation from the board of directors of Nuuvera and explain his departure, Apap Bologna told The Shift that he has stepped down “for personal reasons”. He insisted that he is no longer “a shareholder of the company or any of its associated companies in Malta”.
At the same time, Apap Bologna confirmed that he is still in business with the medical cannabis company as “Nuuvera currently leases premises from one of our companies”.
Apap Bologna’s departure from Nuuvera’s board of directors signifies a change in his original plans.
In 2018, when the government was being lobbied to change the law and start allowing the production of medical cannabis in Malta, the Electrogas director had confirmed his intention to sit on the local licensees’ board.
While Apap Bologna had told The Times of Malta that industry speculation about his lobbying with Joseph Muscat over the medical cannabis industry was “all hogwash”, he did confirm lobbying for the Canadian company to come to Malta and that he would be “serving as board director”.
Apap Bologna has recently testified before the public inquiry board looking into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, twice, in which he was rapped several times by the judges warning him he was under oath when answering questions on the energy deal linked to the journalist’s death.
Aphria Inc, the Canadian company Apap Bologna drew to Malta, is listed on the stock exchange and as such sensitive to any negative publicity in a high profile case that may have an impact on its standing and operations.
Asked to explain why it did not wish Apap Bologna to continue serving on the board of its Malta cannabis company, a spokesman for the Ontario-based company declined to reply.
In its announcement last week about the Medicines Authority giving its first ever green light to a medical cannabis facility in Malta, the government avoided mentioning the Malta company receiving the licence and only mentioned the Canadian company.
The association between Apap Bologna and Aphria Inc goes back to a few months before the Maltese government started its process to change legislation and allow medical cannabis production in Malta.
Just a few weeks before parliament passed the necessary legislation, the Canadian firm announced that it had bought ASG Pharma Ltd – a Maltese registered company – to use for its local cannabis business.
The firm was sold for €5 million and it operated from Apap Bologna’s offices in Mriehel. Its auditors were Nexia BT.