Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg has been criticised by an inquiry board for facilitating the signing of an agreement with Electrogas without parliament approval.

Former energy minister Konrad Mizzi had signed off on the controversial contract binding the government to buy energy off Electrogas for 18 years.

The security of supply agreement was vital for Electrogas to secure multi-million-euro bank loans to keep the project afloat.

E-mails found in a cache of leaked Electrogas data indicate Buttigieg accepted a proposal by the consortium’s legal team confirming that the minister could sign the agreement without the need for any further approval from cabinet or parliament.

At the time of the December 2017 exchange, Buttigieg was deputy attorney general.

The Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry board said Buttigieg offering advice along the lines that cabinet and parliament could be bypassed did not sound right and did not offer assurance that she was putting the interests of the state above those of the government of the day.

Offered advice along the lines that parliament could be bypassed

Electrogas was the Labour Party’s flagship project, with its proposal to reduce pollution and energy bills by building a new gas-fired power station capturing the headlines in the run-up to the 2013 election.

It has since emerged that former prime minister Joseph Muscat, his right-hand man Keith Schembri and energy minister Mizzi were all close to the project’s main promoter, Yorgen Fenech.

Buttigieg did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by Times of Malta.

She was appointed to the role last September, following the resignation of Attorney General Peter Grech.

Chamber of Advocates president Louis de Gabriele said shortly after that the chamber was “perplexed” by her appointment, given her lack of experience in criminal law.

Her appointment coincided with a shift towards the attorney general leading the prosecution of high-level cases such as corruption and money laundering, rather than the police.

Earlier this month, a magistrate deplored the prosecution for failing to turn up for a money-laundering case against restauranteurs Florinda Sultana and Albert Buttigieg, leading to its postponement.

Prosecutors and police have recently been dealing with a record number of money-laundering cases in a bid to show Malta takes financial crimes seriously.

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