Konrad Mizzi has failed for a third time to appear before the Public Accounts Committee probing the controversial Electrogas project, despite having committed to do so via a Facebook post he published during a Parliamentary sitting yesterday.
An hour before his scheduled appearance, the disgraced former minister published a post on his Facebook feed that said he wouldn’t be attending the hearing after all, because his lawyer wasn’t available at such short notice.
Mizzi said that he would appear before the committee on a date that’s convenient to all, including his lawyer.
“It is my right to be assisted by a lawyer of my confidence at the committee meeting and this cannot happen today as the lawyer is not available due to short notice,” he said in his Facebook post.
Mizzi has refused to appear before the committee twice before, on those occasions citing his right to do so as a member of Parliament.
The PAC meeting, as has become customary, was dominated by squabbling between the government and opposition members about procedural issues and details over how and what should have been done to compel Mizzi to testify to the committee.
Government MP Glenn Bedingfield took exception to Chairman Beppe Fenech Adami’s call for a Parliamentary vote on whether Mizzi should be obliged to attend the meeting. Amid accusations of arrogance and bossiness, the PAC bickered over what day to meet again, before the scheduled session on Wednesday next week.
The Committee eventually agreed that it would meet on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week at 2pm, and that both Mizzi and Electrogas shareholder Paul Apap Bologna would be asked to testify at those sessions.
PN MP Karol Aquilina said he has more than 150 questions to ask Mizzi about his involvement in the Electrogas power station deal.
The PAC’s investigation was triggered as the scandal-ridden gas-fired power station project became mired in allegations of massive corruption and money laundering involving Mizzi himself, as well as accused financial criminal and former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.
Mizzi was exposed as having set up a secret Panama company in 2013, just days after the Labour Party won the general elections that year, by assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. That company, Hearneville Inc., was later revealed by international media reports, as well as a report by the FIAU, to have been set up to receive kickbacks from Electrogas shareholder Yorgen Fenech.
Caruana Galizia concurrently outed Schembri’s own secret Panama company, Tilgate Inc, also later shown to have been set up to receive large sums of money from Fenech’s Dubai company, 17 Black.
Mizzi has been linked to a slew of major scandals over the past eight years: apart from his roles in the power station and related SOCAR gas supply rackets, he was closely associated with the Vitals hospital deal as well as the Montenegro windfarm scandal.
He has consistently failed to answer questions about his involvement in the project. When summoned to give evidence to the public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s assassination in October 2017 – which has been linked directly with the corruption behind the Electrogas deal – he refused to respond to 100 questions that were put to him, instead making a statement claiming he never took “kickbacks or rewards”.
Mizzi was forced to resign his ministerial position over his connections to the corrupt deals in 2019, and was later ousted from the Labour Party parliamentary group after reports showing the extent of his involvement in the Montenegro windfarm scandal sparked public outrage.