PAC investigation into Electrogas report diluted, drawn out with unrelated witnesses

An investigation into the contracts awarded as part of the Electrogas scandal by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been drawn out and diluted by unrelated witnesses nominated by government committee members.

The committee met behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss its agenda as the investigation remains in limbo, pending the crucial testimony of Electrogas director Yorgen Fenech.

Fenech, who is currently in prison, charged with complicity in the 2017 assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, refused to testify before the committee last year. He requested that his testimony be suspended until criminal proceedings were concluded.

The committee’s investigation started in 2020 and was based on a 2018 report by the National Audit Office (NAO), which revealed “distortion” unduly favouring the Electrogas consortium to win a government contract to supply natural gas to the power plant in Delimara.

Suspected kickbacks to disgraced former chief of staff Keith Schembri and former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi’s Panama companies were linked to the deal.

Since Fenech refused to testify, the committee has heard testimony from several other officials nominated by both the Opposition and Labour Party government members sitting on the committee.

These included disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat and current Enemalta chairman Ryan Fava, who inadvertently fact-checked Muscat’s testimony before the committee.

Subsequent individuals nominated for testimony by government members of the committee have had little to no involvement in awarding the “irregular” Electrogas contracts found to have “shortcomings” by the NAO.

These have included former minister Tonio Fenech, who served as finance minister between 2008 and 2013 during the PN administration; Alex Tranter, who served as Enemalta chairman between 2005 and 2010; and David Spiteri Gingell, Enemalta CEO between 2007 and 2008.

The Electrogas contracts were awarded in September 2013 following Labour’s electoral victory and administrative changeover.

While the last three witnesses nominated by government members of the committee revealed no relation to the contracts awarded to Electrogas, their hearings have taken up some four months’ worth of committee meetings.

The Shift has previously reported how the committee’s investigation had been seriously derailed in testimony preceding Fenech’s PAC appearance. This included continuous filibustering by former minister Konrad Mizzi and witnesses blocked by government committee members.

In more recent meetings, committee member and Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo was even caught sending the committee’s questions to a prospective witness before their appearance.

Even when the committee concludes its investigations into the Electrogas contracts, its powers to act on findings are limited.

While the Opposition has made recommendations for strengthening the committee, under current legislation, the PAC simply moves on to the next topic once hearings on a particular issue are closed.


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1 month ago

The Government representatives on the PAC have asked and have questioned Ing. Alex Tranter who was never involved in the Electrogas Project.
The Labour group asked political coloured questions about everything except Electrogas. Ing Tranter answered these questions professionally . They tried all sort of dirty tricks to try and confuse him into giving some incriminating answer. They have forgotten , that the first thing Labour did was to investigate Ing. Tranter . He was not found quilty of the trumped up accusation about an EneMalta official visit in London. Maybe on the same note , the PN should get the Shanghai Electric Director to the PAC and get questioned about the contract Shanghai Electric and EneMalta signed.

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