Four years after the heinous assassination of Malta’s leading investigative journalist, the commitment of her colleagues and friends remains firm. We demand justice, both for her personally and for her work.
Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination four years ago today shattered the illusions many still held about Malta and its corrupt Labour government under then-prime minister Joseph Muscat. It devastated her family, friends and supporters and inflicted a deep, still bleeding, still festering, wound on the entire nation.
What it didn’t do was stop her stories. The Shift, set up specifically in order to ensure that her groundbreaking investigative work continues, that the stories she was killed to stop writing don’t get dropped or forgotten, today pays tribute to Caruana Galizia on the fourth anniversary of her murder by looking at the stories of crime, corruption and malfeasance she reported, and that her colleagues, both local and international, have pledged to continue investigating.
She has been murdered, but her work continues. And her legacy will live on through the history her stories have made. Already, her work, continued by newsrooms across Europe, has brought down a prime minister and several ministers, exposed a series of long-established Maltese business families as corrupt, rapacious and conscienceless, and shown up the entire PL pre-2013 programme for Malta to have been nothing more than a ‘roadmap’ to criminal self-enrichment, for the politicians, their hangers-on and their supporters.
Daphne Caruana Galizia zeroed in on the incoming PL government’s plans to build a new power station as being highly suspicious from before the 2013 election that brought them to power.
The corrupt deal, including a gas supply agreement with Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR became one of the journalist’s main investigations. After Caruana Galizia was assassinated, the determination of both local and foreign journalists to continue her work brought not only confirmation of what Caruana Galizia had been reporting, but also uncovered more of the secrets the conspirators were trying to hide.
The Shift exposed the individuals benefiting from the deal, and went further to show Konrad Mizzi’s efforts to hide agreements reached with Electrogas shareholders SOCAR in relation to the importation of LNG gas because this breached EU rules, as well as showing how the former energy minister also gifted Electrogas up to €40 million euros in excise tax refunds.
Another stunning revelation, also based on emails that Caruana Galizia was investigating at the time of her killing, showed that over €16 million had been taken by the shareholders from Electrogas in ‘success fees’ – that were also hidden from the European Commission.
Daphne Caruana Galizia first reported the existence of secret Dubai company 17 Black in February 2017. The company, set up to channel kickbacks to politicians, including former minister Konrad Mizzi’s and OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri’s secret Panama companies, Hearnville and Tillgate – both exposed by Caruana Galizia as part of the Panama Papers revelations – was hurriedly renamed and then shut down by the Dubai authorities.
In November 2018, it was revealed that the owner of 17 Black was Yorgen Fenech, Electrogas shareholder and managing director, and now since late 2019 accused of masterminding Caruana Galizia’s assassination.
Montenegro wind farm
The Maltese government’s involvement in the Mozura wind farm in Montenegro was first exposed by Daphne Caruana Galizia on her blog in 2015. In collaboration with the largest daily newspaper in Montenegro, The Shift investigated the details of the sale on the ground and exposed the manner in which several parties including an anonymous company from the Seychelles and Enemalta colluded in a scheme to fleece both Montenegro and the Maltese taxpayers of millions of euros.
Reuters and The Times of Malta also showed how, behind that anonymous Seychelles company used to funnel money from the deal, Cifidex, there were two familiar faces. The company was owned by an Azeri director of Electrogas, and, that company borrowed and paid millions in profit to 17 Black owned by none other than Yorgen Fenech, accused of commissioning the journalist’s assassination.
The now-shuttered bank became a focus of Caruana Galizia’s reporting from at least 2016, when she accused the bank of having been set up specifically to act as a money laundering vehicle, as well as holding crucial documents and accounts for corrupt politicians.
Since Caruana Galizia’s assassination, further investigations by The Shift and other newsrooms as well as by multiple court experts have proved that she was correct. The bank’s licence was withdrawn by the ECB, after the MFSA failed to act, and the bank’s owner was arrested and charged with serious crimes in the US. He was found guilty on five charges, but the US government then dropped the case.
Caruana Galizia’s disgust at learning that the incoming Labour government was planning to sell Maltese passports to anyone who could come up with sufficient cash led to her determination to scrutinise and investigate the scheme and expose the true venality behind it. Her work led the way in revealing that this was simply a get-rich-quick scam that was allowing easy access into the EU to people whose backgrounds and records might have precluded them from getting visas into Europe.
The Shift followed upon her investigations, and in a joint investigation of national and international journalists into leaked documents from passport concessionaire Henley & Partners earlier this year, reported that most applicants for Malta’s cash-for-passports programme who applied for citizenship via Henley & Partners during the first years of the scheme came from countries where obtaining another passport is illegal or frowned upon, countries like Saudi Arabia, China and Russia.
When the government first announced the privatisation of three public hospitals, Caruana Galizia immediately smelt a rat, when she zeroed in on the frontman for that deal with Vitals Global Healthcare, a shady character named Ram Tumuluri.
Once again, her instincts and investigations were proven to be correct, as were her suspicions of Konrad Mizzi’s involvement. The Shift has reported on the developments in this scandalous affair since its inception, tracking the questionable transfer of the hospitals from Vitals to Steward Healthcare for €1 and exposing the hidden investors behind the deal. As a result of cross-border investigative journalism with colleagues in Montenegro and Albania, The Shift also showed how those involved in the shady deal in Malta were attempting to sell the same model in Eastern European countries.
Daphne and the PL’s ‘iced buns’
Caruana Galizia’s investigations into the corruption at the heart of the PL government extended to exposing unprecedented levels of cronyism and nepotism, which saw friends, supporters and connections of the Labour Party being rewarded with plum positions, cushy jobs and lucrative contracts.
The Shift has exposed hundreds of these cases, sometimes on a daily basis, in the four years since Caruana Galizia’s brutal murder. From public land being handed over to big business, to well-paid government employment being offered to the family members of Party loyalists and a host of direct orders, amounting to many hundreds of millions of euros a year, being handed out to big business names, contractors and developers, as well as ministerial aides, canvassers and constituents.