A very Maltese scandal

Anyone following the stench of Malta’s overflowing sewer of scandal and ignominy was treated to a shocking, but telling, display of arrogance, ignorance, disdain and contempt this week.

Wednesday’s parliamentary public accounts committee meeting starred Electrogas shareholder Paul Apap Bologna trying very hard to not give any evidence at all about his involvement with the corrupt deal. Apap Bologna was accompanied by criminal lawyer Gianella de Marco, whose surprise appearance was only outdone by her dumbfounding performance.

She appeared, to lay observers such as me, to do everything she could to stymie the proceedings, squander the limited time dedicated to the sitting in arguing about the questions asked, and instructing Apap Bologna to refuse to reply. In the middle of this, she astonishingly thought it appropriate to share shoulder shrugs, smiles and giggles with the representatives of the disgrace-ridden government sitting across the table.

Watching the daughter of the late President of the Republic and long-serving PN Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Guido de Marco aligning herself with the interests of PL MP and former Castille smut-blogger-in-residence, Glenn Bedingfield, was truly nauseating.

As they backed each other up in attempting to block, ridicule and sneer at the PN MPs interrogating Apap Bologna about the depth of his connections with the accused murderer he’d chosen to invite into the Electrogas project, I felt the ground beneath me heave with the convulsions of thousands of deceased Nationalists turning, horrified, in their graves.

And what was Ms Dimplechin even doing there? Her contribution, unsurprisingly, appeared to be absolutely zero, bar smirking and simpering at the grotesque Bedingfield and his surprise ally, de Marco and tossing her hair. Besides, as a suspended junior minister under investigation for having allegedly accepted commissions on a property deal involving the self-same accused murderer, Yorgen Fenech, in the form of hard cash in an envelope slipped to her across a table in a public place, surely she is not a fit and proper person to participate in such events?

How on earth is it deemed acceptable that this person is permitted to be part of these proceedings? This is a former “hostess” who reportedly had an affair with said accused and very married murderer, whose only intervention at the Council of Europe in six years was to stand up and defend that same accused murderer, and who spends her free time posting photos of herself in simpering, teen-style poses on social media.

In Apap Bologna, though, we were given a glimpse of the true venality of the business barons who have corrupted and compromised the entire structure of Malta’s political landscape and, therefore, Malta itself. The arrogance of his clipped interjections, the impatience in his voice, the rudeness implied in his short, contemptuous replies; this was a vivid picture of what happens when politicians sell their souls to those whose driving force is filthy lucre, even unto the devastation of their own country.

Apap Bologna may come from a long, noble line of ancestors, but what a disgrace he’s brought to his ancient family name. I remember his late grandmother well, an elegant, gracious lady, for whom honour and integrity were paramount. I can’t help wondering what she would have made of her grandson consorting, at dinner parties apparently, with the most corrupt man in the world of 2019 and his cabal of money-grabbing familiars. Or of the fact that her grandson invited a sordid character like Yorgen Fenech, a drug-taking, casino-running alleged money-launderer and corrupter of politicians, to do business with him.

How dare Apap Bologna treat our elected representatives, entrusted with doing the crucial job of unearthing the truth about the most scandalously corrupt deal ever struck in Malta, with such an undeserved and unearned air of superiority? Arrogance is what leads to hubris, and specimens such as he, who consort with murderers, corrupt politicians and the most sordid of business partners, are destined to learn soon what that feels like.

He and his shoulder-patting, chair-swivelling lawyer may not have quite understood that while the population of Malta may have initially been so shell-shocked it watched open-mouthed as his chosen business associates and dinner party companions robbed Malta blind and stabbed it in the back, their assassination of Malta’s leading journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, in 2017 jerked that population wide awake. It may have taken a few years for the fury to erupt, but now that it has, there is nothing that will stop it.

And much as he’d like to act as though he were above all the sordid, seedy actions of his “friend,” accused murderer Yorgen Fenech, he should know that from now on he’ll be stinking of his putrid associations, wherever he goes and whoever he sees.

His insistence that Fenech was entirely and solely responsible for whatever happened around Electrogas is and has always been risible. Indeed, coming after The Sunday Times revealed on 8 May that Apap Bologna owns a secret, United Arab Emirates company identical to Fenech’s proven corruption vehicle 17 Black, the man’s pompously self-important stance becomes even more laughable.

De Marco and her chum Bedingfield may have succeeded in wasting most of the committee’s time on Wednesday, but Apap Bologna really should start taking a few lessons in humility before he next appears. Lest he forget, I’ll remind him that Daphne Caruana Galizia – brutally murdered, allegedly, by his business partner and, according to 635 MEPs as well as anyone with half a brain in Malta, the very dinner-party companions he was so squeamish about mentioning to the committee – exposed reams of information about his corrupt cronies in the years between 2013 and 2017 and had been about to publish a host of further incriminating stories about the scandalous Electrogas scam when she was killed. No, Apap Bologna cannot plead ignorance, not unless he wants us to believe he can’t read.

The almost-two-hour hearing was an eye-opener to me. Having followed scores of parliamentary select committee inquiries in London, I was astonished at the casual air of the local version, the vulgar language, the non-stop bickering between members of the committee, the lack of respect from any of the participants for the dignity of the proceedings, the several MPs gazing with glazed eyes at their phones through the entire rigmarole and the total absence of gravitas all round.

It was a pantomime. A parody of what a real committee meeting in a normal country would look like. Of course, people like Apap Bologna and de Marco would try to beat down their interrogators with haughtiness and conceit. But no matter the paucity of the proceedings, viewers will have no doubt, after that performance, that arrogance does indeed lead to hubris, even for those with the longest of pedigrees. There are reasons many of the most prominent families of centuries gone by have disappeared into the dust. Apap Bologna would do well to remember that.

You can follow the parliamentary committee proceedings here.

                           
                               
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Winston Smith
Winston Smith
4 months ago

The fact that defence lawyers and the whole justice system are allowed to dawdle and dally shows that the institutions aren’t working. Bad governmental illusionism, thinking that procrastination and frivolities would somehow cause mass amnesia. We shall not forget.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
4 months ago
Reply to  Winston Smith

Dawdling and dallying seem to be a ‘de rigueur’ ritual invariably followed by defence lawyers where their client would appear to all and sundry as being at fault.

It is therefore nothing unusual for Apap Bologna’s legal consort to do just that in the House Committee which was grilling her client on such an important matter as the Power Station contract.

As someone remarked – not very inappropriately, one could say,- defence lawyers give far more attention to what their clients should pay them for saying, rather than to what they have to say in their client’s defence’.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
4 months ago

I’m sure Gianella de Marco was very well paid for those theatrics.

carlo
carlo
4 months ago
Reply to  saviour mamo

ginella d marco – say no more.

Malta is at the point of no return. I feel sorry for the young generation who have to carry this burden of corruption resulting in loss of respect, which is already happening and this happened to me when I was asked from where do I come, when I said Malta the reply was “Oh the most corrupt Island in the Mediterranean having the most corrupt pm in Europe”

viv
viv
4 months ago

Curiouser and curiouser.

Simon Oosterman
Simon Oosterman
4 months ago
Reply to  viv

Malta is indeed Wonderland.

Guido
Guido
4 months ago

So well said Blanche !
Malta is truly finished. Watching the proceedings and the behaviour of the participants, and to my amazement Dr Demarco herself, whose son was caught allegedly trying to bribe a journalist, destroyed any semblance of hope I had that there were indeed still some decent people around. If there ever was a case of consorting with the enemy, this was it.
Greed has definitely won the day and the word elite went down the toilet.
Families like the Apap Bolognas, Gasans and now the Demarcos will forever be cursed by their off spring for the permanent shame they brought to their families.

Carmel Ellul
Carmel Ellul
4 months ago
Reply to  Guido

There are some who have become opportunists and will sell their family for 13 pieces of silver. Pride has been redefined into humans showing off their skin , fore and after on trucks, ethics ? Try and mention that word and you will be looked at as a simpleton. Money corrupts and how.

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
4 months ago

Ms Blanche Gatt – your articles have become unmissable and I look forward to them, with the same eagerness I always looked forward to Daphne’s Running Commentary.
I also thank Caroline, who has deservedly and unassumingly, made an International name for herself in investigative journalism, with the Shift News, and has become a household name.
On this article, I am not surprisingly shocked with the theatrics of the Demarco brand. Dr Guido Demarco’s skills in politics, were in my opinion, nothing more than his stage skills in politics and in Court, and I always singled him out, as the sore thumb in the great team Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami had around him. Perhaps, the Hon Mabel Strickland, who was a friend of his, would today have described him as a permanent noose around her neck.
You seem to emphasise on the ‘pure breed’ of Apap Bologna, who like his closed circle of ex-college colleagues turned into business colleagues, have mixed with the stink of money and sleaze of the ‘nouveau riche’, who brought a new despregative word for social class, and created a new style of free masonry.
As regards the presence of others you mention, my guess of the common factor binding them together, is the personal interest in cannabis which gives an illusionary ‘double whatever’, and the ever present reminder that our institutions are founded and operated on the maxim’ignorance is bliss’.

Guido
Guido
4 months ago

Spot on Godfrey

Robert Pace Bonello
Robert Pace Bonello
4 months ago

He might come from a noble line of ancestry but that means nothing at all. Honour and Integrity – not so sure about that. Anyway students of history know the origins of the nobility.

A. Charles
A. Charles
4 months ago

Apap Bologna rhymes with Babilonia!

Hitch22
Hitch22
4 months ago

Every time I read Blanche Gatt’s superbly written articles I wish I could just leave this rotten place. Little by little Malta has lost all its charm and become so ugly but worst of all thanks to the Labour Party, we are infested by sleaze, hypocrisy and uncouth troglodytes with a license to do things their way. This is the true pandemic in Malta. One where there is no vaccine!

carlo
carlo
4 months ago

Money does not make gentlemen – it only makes them corrupt, arrogant and as we say in maltese HAMALLI.

Francis Darmanin
Francis Darmanin
4 months ago

10/10

Chris Xuereb
Chris Xuereb
3 months ago

5 years ago I could stomach it no more and left Malta. We Maltese, bar some exceptions, cannot grasp that what passes for ‘normal’ in Malta is utterly absurd elsewhere.

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