Paul Apap Bologna has a secret offshore company called Kittiwake Limited. It was opened at the same time as Yorgen Fenech’s 17 Black and the Panama companies belonging to Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and Lord Egrant. But he doesn’t want to talk about it.
The Electrogas director exercised his right to remain silent this week when summoned before your elected representatives to answer questions about Electrogas.
His lawyer certainly wouldn’t have gotten away with all her bluster and bullying in front of the judges who form the board of the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Unfortunately, the public inquiry board didn’t know about Apap Bologna’s secret offshore structure when they summoned him — twice — to testify about his role in the project. But he did have to be warned several times that he was under oath, and his answers weren’t credible.
Apap Bologna’s memory doesn’t seem very credible, either.
He told the public inquiry he was shocked to learn Fenech owned 17 Black after finding out about it “through the press”. When asked if he’d confronted his colleague with the accusation, he said, “We asked him about it at a board meeting, but he didn’t answer us.”
“What did you do when he didn’t reply?” Judge Lofaro said. “Just stare back?”
The visibly uncomfortable witness mumbled, “They were media accusations…”
Well, it turns out Kittiwake transferred $200,000 to Fenech’s company Wings Investment days before Caruana Galizia dropped the name 17 Black for the first time, and long before we knew Fenech owned it. (The company’s name was changed from 17 Black to Wings Development to cover the trail when the former became public. Wings Investment was a sister company also owned by Fenech)
Apap Bologna must have forgotten about that, too.
Another company called EN3 Projects sent $300,000 to Wings Investments at around the same time. When the UAE bank asked for details, Fenech told them he was doing business with EN3 Projects in Qatar and Bangladesh — with help from Kittiwake owner Paul Apap Bologna.
“Surely not,” you might say. After all, The Forgetful Entrepreneur told the public inquiry he had no idea Fenech was planning to replicate the Electrogas model in Bangladesh. He only found out from the press.
There were so many things he ‘didn’t know’.
Asked at the public inquiry if he had questioned Fenech about the reason for Fenech’s sudden resignation as director just days before the alleged mastermind’s escape attempt and arrest, Apap Bologna said, “I didn’t speak to Fenech”.
“Be careful,” lawyer Jason Azzopardi warned him, “mobile data concerning Yorgen Fenech will be coming out”.
“I may have spoken to him…” Apap Bologna replied.
In October 2020, the Gasan Group — Apap Bologna’s fellow shareholders — issued a statement to the press saying, “We have not received any dividends and have only registered losses in relation to our investment in Electrogas.” Apap Bologna chimed in, too, claiming he was only expecting to see a profit in either 2023 or “the end of the decade”.
And yet, investigations by the press revealed that the conglomerate of shareholders controlling the project paid themselves over €16 million in “success fees” out of loans granted to Electrogas on the back of a last-minute multi-million euro state guarantee.
Despite the amount of money on the table — and the sizeable investment made by his business — Apap Bologna claimed he ‘didn’t know’ how, out of the millions in development costs, €20 million were allocated to development fees, success fees and rebates for shareholders.
As for the breakdown of share ownership on the Maltese side, shares were held by Apap Bolognas, the Gasans and Fenech’s Tumas Energy, with an extra 10% being owned by Yorgen.
At first, Apap Bologna told the Public Accounts Committee they agreed to let Yorgen hold that extra 10% after discussion with the late George Fenech. But he changed his story in time for the next hearing, claiming the 10% stake was Yorgen’s from the beginning because he had taken the lead in the project.
Why Fenech held those shares in his personal capacity rather than folding them into Tumas Energy’s investment, no one seems to know.
But whatever you’re thinking, that 10% share had nothing to do with corruption, and it wasn’t the source of the €5,000 per day Schembri and Mizzi’s Panama companies were supposed to receive from 17 Black and Macbridge. I’m sure if it was, then Apap Bologna would have said so.
Unfortunately, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee that summoned The Forgetful Entrepreneur to testify isn’t a court of law.
It didn’t even resemble a parliamentary committee. Given the behaviour of those involved, it had more in common with a school lunchroom when the teacher is absent.
Governing party MPs cracking jokes, bickering and drowning others out with their bluster. Glazed-eyed MPs sitting on the sidelines playing with their phones. The lawyer of the witness — why was she allowed to address the committee? — hectoring members of parliament. And the witness refusing to answer questions due to evident fears of incriminating himself.
It was an embarrassing travesty more fitting for a village club than a national parliament.
Many years ago, in my long-gone student days, I spent a summer working for Canada’s House of Commons, where I edited the written records of parliamentary committee sessions. I can assure you that MPs took their duties seriously, discussed legislation in cross-party groups (without cross-party bickering), and summoned expert witnesses to ensure they understood the issues they were responsible for regulating.
I’ve never seen anything like the undignified shit show on display in Malta’s Public Accounts Committee last week. You deserve better than that, but you won’t get better until you demand it from the people you elect to represent you.
Kittiwake is a clear indication that Paul Apap Bologna was in on the ‘sinister’ Electrogas deal from the start. It’s increasingly looking like he’s in as deep as Yorgen Fenech.
From the evidence that’s emerged in the public inquiry and the various court cases, it’s increasingly likely that Caruana Galizia was brutally murdered to stop her from digging any further into the corrupt project.
Was Apap Bologna aware of that plan, too? It’s time for the police to haul him in and find out.
You can follow the parliamentary committee proceedings here.