The EU could end up helping accused murderer Yorgen Fenech and his fellow shareholders in the scandal-ridden Electrogas project to finally begin raking in the profits from that blood-stained deal, The Guardian newspaper informed us yesterday.
I did a double-take when I read that. The UK paper reported that EU energy ministers are pushing for European funds to help finance the construction of the €400 million gas pipeline that will feed the Electrogas power station.
As the public inquiry into her assassination concluded, Caruana Galizia was killed to silence her reporting on the corruption and criminality around the power station project. The man accused of masterminding her killing, former casino boss and Electrogas shareholder Yorgen Fenech, is in jail awaiting trial, as are, separately, several of the hitmen, though no start date has yet been set.
I had to read the headline in The Guardian a couple of times, thinking surely, I’d misread it. But no. I hadn’t. According to the UK paper, just before EU officials and MEPs begin debating the phasing out of EU subsidies for fossil fuel projects, EU ambassadors have confirmed that Malta and Cyprus have won exemptions for gas pipelines to connect them to European gas networks.
That means the EU could, after all, pay for the Melita TransGas pipeline that’s planned to pump gas from Sicily directly into the open maw of the Electrogas shareholders and, presumably, their sponsors. The planned pipeline is not a new project, but the deal struck by Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and Joseph Muscat means that any assistance on the pipeline the EU provides for Malta to meet its energy requirements goes straight into the hands of Electrogas shareholders.
Following the news from Malta ought to come with a health warning. We’re faced with one obscenity after another, a never-ending ooze of sleaze and scandal that’s mind-boggling in its extent. It’s become the norm in this accursed island of ours, to open the papers, or click on a headline, and risk being shocked to the core.
Yesterday was no exception. It’s hard to imagine anything more outrageous than an outcome in which the EU actually helps put money into the pockets of anyone involved in the corrupt scam that was the Electrogas project.
There’s no guarantee the EU will ever agree to finance it. The government has already tried, in 2019, to secure financing from the Union for the pipeline, and failed – despite having tailored its bid to suit the bloc’s focus on cleaner energy potential.
And, just in time to remind us why it would be so wrong, tomorrow afternoon, if all goes to plan, Electrogas shareholder Paul Apap Bologna will face the Public Accounts Committee again, after a hiatus of several months. He’s been summoned to give further testimony, as has disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi.
This time, though, Apap Bologna will hopefully be pressed harder to shed a bit more light on how and when the company expects to start raking in the profits from the controversial gas-fired power station under scrutiny.
At one of his previous shameful, stonewalling appearances before the PAC, he whined that he and the other investors in this besmirched project hadn’t made a penny in profit from the deal yet.
He didn’t seem too perturbed by it. Indeed, he described the venture as being “a hockey stick business model” – that is, a business that after a long period of low or no profit, suddenly sees a dramatic surge that, in the charts anyway, rises sharply, straight up, with no dips or waves or even levelling off at any point.
One can’t help considering where Apap Bologna, Fenech, the Gasans, Siemens and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR had been envisioning Electrogas’ inflexion point on their particular chart would be. Was it expected to come when the gas pipeline, which has, after all, been planned for almost as long as Electrogas itself, was finally completed?
Is there a connection between Apap Bologna’s “hockey stick” and the partners’ anticipation of the inception of the gas pipeline? Is this the pay day they’ve been waiting for?
The scandal surrounding the Electrogas deal, eight long years after Caruana Galizia first starting reporting on it, should be enough to ensure the EU steers very clear of anything that might be linked to it in any way.
But Caruana Galizia’s murder, linked categorically by three eminent judges directly to the power station project and attempts to silence her reporting, must act as an absolute red line for the EU.
Yes, Malta needs solutions to its energy problems that will become ever more urgent, but until every last detail about Electrogas has been uncovered, until every last penny changing hands between the partners and politicians involved has been accounted for, not a single penny in public money, European taxpayers’ money, must go anywhere near any project linked with it in any way.
The Maltese government, corrupt and shameless as it is, has spent the past eight years using taxpayers’ cash as its own personal piggy bank. They’ve also learned quite well how to do the same with EU funds, dishing out EU-funded contracts and direct orders to chums and cronies with high-handed abandon.
But this, this would be a step too far. The EU has already rejected the application for funding once. It must stick to that decision, or risk becoming the catalyst for bringing Electrogas’ hockey stick ambitions to fruition.