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  • Writer's pictureAndré Delicata

I smell a rat

Yorgen Fenech was apprehended by the police as he is a “person of interest” in the investigation on Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination (a long overdue step). He was intercepted as he was allegedly trying to abscond from the Maltese islands.

There is something odd about a person who chooses to abscond in a massive boat departing from a marina full of CCTV cameras with the transponder of his boat on, and who is intercepted by the police at sea when he could have easily been apprehended on land.

He has been in the media often in the last few months, since Reuters had revealed that he had set up a secret company called 17 Black that he was going to use to pay Keith Schembri, the prime minister’s chief of staff, and Konrad Mizzi – at the time the Minister responsible for Energy – each the princely sum of some 5,000 euros a day.

Schembri and Mizzi had both set up secret companies to use to receive these payments. Their secret companies were both set up at the same time, by the same financial practitioner (Nexia BT), in the same jurisdiction (Panama), both hidden behind a trust in New Zealand.

Schembri and Mizzi both denied any links to 17 Black, and they claimed that they were not aware of who the owner of 17 Black. It is highly unusual for someone not to know the name of a person who is about to give you 5,000 euros a day.

17 Black received a very large amount of money – presumably to be used to pay Mizzi and Schembri – from an account in Latvia controlled by a person (a proxy) from Azerbaijan. The person behind the proxy is still unknown. However Yorgen Fenech does have a connection with Azerbaijan; he is in business with SOCAR, a company owned by the state of Azerbaijan in the company Electrogas Ltd., which following a questionable tendering process was awarded a tender to supply Malta’s energy needs.

Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri also have links to Azerbaijan.

The Malta Police Commissioner Lorry Cutajar (who had expressed great admiration for the Prime Minister’s testicles on social media) had not found any of this to be suspicious, and a good reason to investigate either Keith Schembri or Konrad Mizzi. Nor did he deem it necessary to investigate other financial transactions involving them flagged by the FIAU as highly suspicious. Was he under some kind of pressure not to investigate them?

The Prime Minister and his entourage repeat continually the mantra that there are magisterial inquiries on these matters going on, and that no-one should jump to conclusions before the outcome of these inquiries is known. It is hardly likely that the conclusions of these inquiries will ever be known, seeing that Mizzi, Schembri et al try to block all of them in court.

In any case, this is bullshit. Magisterial inquiries may take several years to be concluded, as magistrates 1) are too busy for inquiries 2) are not well resourced for inquiries and have to rely on the police (the executive) for much of the work, which means that they are not independent as they depend 3) are not trained to investigate.

It should also be pointed out that the magistrate passes on the results of the inquiry to the attorney general, who has complete discretion on which – if any – parts of the inquiry he will divulge, and to whom, and on whether he should act on the inquiring magistrate’s conclusions. In these matters, he does not owe anyone an explanation, there is absolutely no accountability.

Criminals need to launder their illicit gains to enjoy the fruits of their crimes. Are Fenech’s various businesses including his casino being investigated for possible financial or economic crimes and money laundering activities? Or is it business as usual in all the commercial operations in which Fenech was involved (including the Portomaso Casino where it seems the three killers contracted to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia habitually laundered the proceeds of their illicit gains unfettered)?

We must be the only country in the world where the Prime Minister is also the de facto Police Commissioner. Why is the Prime Minister speaking about the investigation and not the Police Commissioner? The Prime Minister should not be involved in the investigation in any way, he should not know what is going on and he should not be the spokesperson on the matter; that is the the remit of the Police Commissioner and his alone. This actually proves the point that our institutions are not independent.

Last but not least let us not forget that if is proven that Fenech is a criminal and the person or one of the persons who masterminded Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, he did not act alone. Accountants and/or lawyers helped him set up the structures enabling him to carry out his crimes. Individuals in the higher echelons of power shielded him. And many questions remain unanswered.

Justice will only be served when ALL the people who were involved in any way in Daphne’s assassination are behind bars. And we will not rest till this happens.



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