17 Black: some real an­swers from the Prime Min­is­ter would be ap­pro­pri­ate right about now

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - THE FACT -

So Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat would pre­fer to await the con­clu­sion of on­go­ing in­quiries and in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­fore lift­ing a fin­ger to take ac­tion against Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi and his chief of staff Keith Schem­bri.

This even when ev­ery po­lit­i­cal party and large swathes of the pub­lic are call­ing for Mizzi and Schem­bri to be sacked or, at the very least, sus­pended from gov­ern­ment du­ties un­til those in­ves­ti­ga­tions and in­quiries are con­cluded.

Mr Prime Min­is­ter, you can try to pull the other one but nei­ther has bells on them. You can also try to pull the wool but even wool has a lim­ited shelf life un­til is wears thin enough to be­come trans­par­ent.

And that is ex­actly what is hap­pen­ing with the lat­est rev­e­la­tions on how Mizzi and Schem­bri ap­par­ently tried, or man­aged, to skim off the top of the De­li­mara power sta­tion deal. There is so much that is rot­ten about that deal that, even though the power sta­tion is now run­ning on nat­u­ral gas, it nev­er­the­less stinks to high heaven.

So, Mr Prime Min­is­ter, which in­ves­ti­ga­tions and in­quiries are you speak­ing of here which need to be con­cluded be­fore de­cid­ing on what ac­tion to take?

Are you re­fer­ring to the Panama Pa­pers mag­is­te­rial in­quiry that you and your fel­low ac­cused have jumped through hoops to avoid and de­lay at all costs, even though you had pledged to co­op­er­ate fully?

Or are you speak­ing about the in­ves­ti­ga­tions un­der­taken by the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Anal­y­sis Unit that were ac­tu­ally con­cluded but which no suc­ces­sive po­lice com­mis­sioner would dare touch with a barge pole?

It is only a mat­ter of time be­fore the chick­ens be­gin com­ing home to roost in the wake of the many cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing scan­dals that are plagu­ing the coun­try and its rep­u­ta­tion. And the au­thor­i­ties’ chronic in­ac­tion over them may very well have dire con­se­quences for the coun­try.

The fact of the mat­ter is that this has all hap­pened be- cause of an in­sti­tu­tional fail­ure to in­ves­ti­gate cer­tain peo­ple who are deemed to be un­touch­ables. And th­ese un­touch­ables are slowly but very surely ren­der­ing Malta it­self un­touch­able.

In the light of the new facts that have sur­faced over the last two days, the Prime Min­is­ter must ex­plain pub­licly and with­out de­lay the fol­low­ing ques­tions, which we have been ask­ing for years now:

• Who owns 17 Black? Wait, we now know the an­swer to that one.

• Why did your gov­ern­ment ne­go­ti­ate an 18-year power and gas pur­chase agree­ment worth bil­lions of eu­ros in turnover with a con­sor­tium that: (i) in­cluded So­car and Siemens which are both known for their past in­volve­ment in eth­i­cally ques­tion­able prac­tices; and (ii) whose lead de­vel­oper was Ga­sol, a tiny com­pany with­out a cred­i­ble track record ul­ti­mately con­trolled by a brass-plate com­pany reg­is­tered at Mos­sack Fon­seca’s of­fices in the se­cre­tive ju­ris­dic­tion of the Sey­chelles.

• Did your peo­ple do any due dili­gence on the di­rec­tors of Ga­sol when you were ne­go­ti­at­ing the deal in 2012? What were the re­sults?

• Why did those act­ing for your then en­ergy min­is­ter and chief of staff reg­is­ter Pana­ma­nian com­pa­nies with Mos­sack Fon­seca in Panama at the same time as the 18year gas and power agree­ment bid­ding process en­tered the short-list­ing phase, which in­cluded the con­sor­tium led by Ga­sol, a com­pany ul­ti­mately con­trolled from a Mos­sack Fon­seca ad­dress in the Sey­chelles?

• What due dili­gence did your gov­ern­ment carry out on the Sey­chelles-con­trolled Ga­sol, par­tic­u­larly about the full iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of its ben­e­fi­cial own­ers in order to rule out that they did not in­clude, di­rectly or through other shell com­pa­nies: politi­cians, cor­rupt per­sons, money laun­der­ers, dic­ta­tors, hu­man rights vi­o­la­tors, crim­i­nals, per­sons barred from pub­lic of­fice, co-ten­der­ers or col­lu­sive ten­der­ers. This due dili­gence should be pub­lished forth­with.

• Did this due dili­gence in­clude the former Ga­sol direc­tor that we re­port in to­day’s is­sue, who has been sen­tenced to 16 years con­cur­rent pri­son time in the UK for se­ri­ous fraud and money laun­der­ing?

• Who were the ben­e­fi­cial own­ers of Ga­sol in the Sey­chelles while they had an in­ter­est in the 18-year power and gas agree­ment, what were their com­pe­ten­cies and past achieve­ments in power and gas pro­jects and their global po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness con­nec­tions? If you car­ried out any kind of due dili­gence on a project of this mag­ni­tude that was of na­tional, and elec­toral, im­por­tance, you should know the an­swer to that one.

• Who were the in­di­vid­u­als rep­re­sent­ing Ga­sol at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble with your ad­min­is­tra­tion in wait­ing, and where are they now?

• What was the ex­act role of Ga­sol in the con­sor­tium and in the project, con­sid­er­ing that it ex­ited the project as soon as the deal and its fi­nanc­ing were fixed, and very specif­i­cally in the same week in July 2015 in which the fi­nanc­ing pack­age was fi­nalised and signed – in­clud­ing the bank loan to the con­sor­tium of €450 mil­lion and the tax­pay­ers’ guar­an­tee to the banks of €360 mil­lion?

• What liq­ui­da­tion Ga­sol did pocket for the dis­posal of its 30 per cent share upon exit from the tax­payer-guar­an­teed project on 22 July 2015, and on what ba­sis was that liq­ui­da­tion com­puted?

• Who were the share­hold­ers hold­ing an in­ter­est of five per cent or more in the share cap­i­tal of Ga­sol at the date of its exit from the tax­payer-guar­an­teed project?

• Can you ex­plain the trans­ac­tions which oc­curred on 22 July 2015 – the trans­fer of Kon­rad Mizzi’s Pana­ma­nian com­pany to his New Zealand trust on same day that Ga­sol sold shares to Elec­trogas – and which are trace­able to en­ti­ties that are ul­ti­mately con­trolled at reg­is­tered of­fices of the same in­ter­na­tional le­gal net­work of Mos­sack Fon­seca?

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