SOCAR fails in legal bid to block Latvian investigation into secret Malta LNG agreement

A Federal Court in Switzerland has thrown out Azerbaijan’s SOCAR attempts to block the sharing of banking information with Latvian police related to investigations of suspicious money movements in 2017 – they are linked to an agreement signed between the Maltese government and SOCAR Trading.

The ‘Security of Supply Agreement’ was signed by disgraced former Minister Konrad Mizzi with SOCAR Trading in 2015, undertaking to buy liquified natural gas (LNG) for the Electrogas power station for 18 years at ridiculously inflated prices.

The Shift had revealed it was former Minister Konrad Mizzi who personally signed the agreement between the government and SOCAR Trading for the supply of liquified natural gas (LNG) to the Electrogas power station for 18 years, based on the findings of an FIAU report leaked by MEP David Casa.

The Shift also reported how the Maltese government had gone to great lengths to hide the existence of this LNG agreement from the European Commission. To date, this agreement has not been made public. Requests for copies, even in parliament, have been repeatedly stonewalled.

Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and Kurt Farrugia in Baku, Azerbaijan, in December 2014.

In January 2020, Latvian police sent an international letter of request (letter rogatory) to judicial authorities in Geneva, Switzerland, asking for banking information relating to a SOCAR entity based in Dubai (SOCAR Trading DMCC) and using a Swiss bank.

The underlying investigation was described by Latvian authorities as relating to money laundering in connection with an agreement concluded between Malta and SOCAR Trading in 2015 for the production or trade of liquefied petroleum gas “concluded in a manner contrary to the interests of the [Maltese] State”.

The investigation is described as focusing on around €28 million exchanged between SOCAR entities based in Dubai and two unidentified limited partnerships through, among others, Latvian banks in 2017-2018 relating to this agreement.

Limited partnerships, typically Scottish, have featured in a number of Azerbaijani and Russian laundromat and high profile bribery investigations, due in no small part to the anonymity offered by these vehicles.

In 2018, Latvian banking authorities shut down ABLV Bank following intense pressure from US authorities to close what it effectively called ‘a laundromat’. It is understood that this investigation stems, at least in part, from data seized from ABLV Bank.

The request from Latvian police targeted banking information and transactions by SOCAR Trading through its Geneva-based bank in order to investigate the origin of, among other things, these €28 million.

SOCAR objected to the sharing of bank data with Latvian authorities due to the risk that “in future Malta will open proceedings against it for these facts” and that Latvia would, if requested, likely share that information with Malta.

SOCAR contended that the facts “do not constitute money laundering in Malta”, so accordingly such further data sharing would be in breach of the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

The Swiss Court rejected SOCAR’s claim noting that the company had failed to support its concerns with concrete evidence of its fear of a breach of the Convention.

SOCAR also sought to limit the years of banking information being shared with Latvia. The request was also rejected by the Swiss Court noting that it should not limit Latvian authorities’ discretion to investigate all relevant facts.

The judgement was confirmed on appeal.

                           
                               
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D. Borg
D. Borg
3 months ago

It follows, that now, every ‘subject person/entity’ reading this, MUST belatedly file an STR with the FIAU.
Albeit I’m not sure whether one party to draw the FIAU’s formal attention to, should be the Government of Malta, the disgraced Joseph Muscat, or/and his errand boy Konrad Mizzi – maybe a senior FIAU official may kindly guide us please?

Winston Smith
Winston Smith
3 months ago

More acid reflux inducing news for Konrad, Keith and Joseph. Turning out to be annus horribilis for money launderers.

carlo
carlo
3 months ago

We know for sure that the corrupt dodger, the korrott conrad or the corrupt kasco will never disclose the contents of the agreement but kurt farrugia should be made to speak up and not holding important positions with a phenomenal salary – he was in it too so maybe he also got some benefit out of the scandalous agreement when the Maltese are being screwed.

Fuad
3 months ago
Mick
Mick
3 months ago

Could be another break in nailing these bastards to the mast,hope they apply for access.

R slater
R slater
3 months ago

The windmill had been successfully completed at last, and the farm possessed a threshing machine and a hay elevator of its own, and various new buildings had been added to it. . . . The windmill, however, had not after all been used for generating electrical power. It was used for milling corn, and brought in a handsome money profit. The animals were hard at work building yet another windmill; when that one was finished, so it was said, the dynamos would be installed. Thanks Mr Orwell…

J. Kerr
J. Kerr
3 months ago

Remember that prior to that picture in Baku, they removed prescription for MPs wrong doings. Of course, it was meant to
publicly show that their integrity was beyond reproach. However, soon afterwards they removed their spouses from their declaration of assets. That should have raised many an eyebrow. Mine did! It also goes to show how meticulously they planned it all. But as the article indirectly points out more seams are beginning to fall apart. They must be worried. The little one too!

Joseph
Joseph
3 months ago

These three corrupt politicians are living a luxury life with the benefit of justice while we recieve il-loqom of the pension and the Lesa envelopes to pay for the hidden cameras way out the St Julian’s tunnel a kilometer away from the Major Mater Dei hospital.

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