Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
The CEO of the French company forming part of a French-Maltese consortium to be awarded a €600 million contract for a waste-to-energy incinerator facility at Magħtab, was being investigated for corruption by Parisian courts just last year.
The French Paprec Energies consortium, in which Bonnici Group has a 40% stake, secured the recommended bidder status for the construction and operation of the plant for 20 years, beating two other final bidders despite government ‘blunders’ which may have compromised the tendering process.
Paprec’s CEO, Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, was placed under formal investigation by the French courts last year for “suspicion of corruption” and “favouritism”. His son, Sébastien Petithuguenin, briefly took over as the company’s chief executive until Jean-Luc’s reinstatement in the management of Paprec’s foreign division.
The government tender, originally set to cost €400 million, was compromised last June as sensitive bidders’ financial offers were ‘mistakenly’ published by the government while the competitive dialogue was still ongoing.
Following the data’s publication, the Paprec/Bonnici consortium submitted the most competitive tender for the contract among the three final bidders.
In its final submission, evaluated and negotiated by a government-appointed evaluation committee, the Paprec/Bonnici consortium’s final price was a few million euros short of the original indicative price of €617 million.
Two other bidders, Maghtab Gdid Energija Nadifa and Sacyr Industrial Operacion, dropped out of the tendering process at the last minute in July despite initially offering cheaper bids. Industry sources had told The Shift that the move might result from international mergers or because they “smelled a rat”.
Bonnici Group has no experience in the complex incineration business and has close connections with Prime Minister Robert Abela, as its managing director Gilbert Bonnici was Abela’s business partner in an Iklin construction development project.
The Group was also a client of Abela’s private legal office and has received millions of euros in direct orders.
Meanwhile, Paprec, the French company specialising in waste treatment, recovery and recycling, saw its CEO Petithuguenin indicted in May 2022 on “corruption” and “favouritism” suspicions. The Parisian Court of Appeal placed him under judicial supervision as part of an investigation stretching back to 2020.
In a June 2022 press release, the Paprec board announced Petithuguenin’s sons, Sébastien and Mathieu, as CEO and deputy CEO, respectively. In an interview that month, Petithuguenin Sr. claimed the investigation was related to the award of two public contracts in France, denying the alleged corruption and favouritism which led to their award. By August 2022, he was reinstated as the CEO of Paprec’s international division.
Despite commitments by the Maltese government promising to limit the take-up of agricultural land at Magħtab, the approved incinerator project has meant the forced eviction of farmers who had tilled the arable land for decades.
The new plant forms part of the ECOHIVE project and is expected to process 192,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste per year to be converted into ‘green’ energy. Wasteserv announced it would also be issuing two additional “major” calls for tenders, one for a “new EU-funded Organic Processing Plant and the other for a Skip Management Facility”.
Plans for the incinerator had already been delayed several years, with WasteServ facing a deluge of resignations from some of its most seasoned professionals since CEO Richard Bilocca took the helm, once more calling into question the continued mismanagement of Malta’s waste and energy sectors.