Disgraced former energy minister Konrad Mizzi spent another two hours dodging questions at today’s public accounts committee (PAC) hearing into his role in the controversial Electrogas deal.
Mizzi stuck to a strategy of avoidance, refusing to answer questions outright, or saying he would wait for the Speaker of the House to rule on whether the committee had breached his rights with its line of questioning during previous sessions. The only break in stonewalling came when he referred to extensively documented corruption as “lies”.
He refused to say whether he had any business dealings with Galea before entering politics, or whether Galea had secretly compensated him for €265,000 in direct orders awarded to Galea by Mizzi’s ministries during the latter’s nine years in parliament. All the orders referred to in the sitting had been awarded through whichever ministry Mizzi happened to occupy at the time.
Both Galea and Tonna sat on the final evaluation committee that shortlisted Electrogas and Endeavour as the two finalists. Mizzi did not provide answers as to why Galea and Tonna awarded a score of 0 on a scale from 0 to 5 to Endeavour, answers which were not provided by either Galea or Tonna when they were brought to testify in front of the PAC.
The former energy minister, who remains an MP, did not answer questions about an alleged 2016 trip to London with Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech after the fallout of the Panama Papers revelations.
He refused to answer specific questions about his offshore company, and whether he had allegedly panicked and visited the offices of a London-based legal firm to engage related services when the existence of that company was leaked to the press.
He also refused to confirm or deny whether he had attempted to open multiple bank accounts for the company in multiple jurisdictions besides Panama, including Dubai, the Bahamas, and Florida, or whether he has any familial links with high-ranking members of the Chinese government.
The witness also refused to answer questions about his secretive trips to Azerbaijan and his relationship with Leila Aliyeva, daughter of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev.
A 2017 investigation by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) unearthed a complex money-laundering and slush fund operation known as The Azerbaijani Laundromat, which moved $2.9 billion through four UK-registered shell companies over a two-year period. Almost half that money came from an account at the International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) held by a mysterious shell company linked to Azerbaijan’s first family. The second and third largest contributors were two offshore companies with direct connections to a regime insider.
Mizzi also refused to answer questions about his relationship with Turab Musayev, SOCAR’s representative in the Electrogas consortium, and his ties to Cheng Chen, the Chinese businessman linked to Macbridge, a company set up to funnel $2 million per year into offshore companies owned by Mizzi and disgraced former OPM chief-of-staff Keith Schembri.
The questioning was largely handled by opposition MPs and committee members Beppe Fenech Adami, Karol Aquilina and Ryan Callus.