Alleged money launderer Brian Tonna refused to answer a parliamentary committee’s questions on the Electrogas power station deal on Tuesday, saying he may be a suspect in ongoing police investigations into the matter. 

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee  grilled Tonna over the findings of an Auditor General probe into the controversial power station deal.  

However, Tonna’s lawyer, Stephen Tonna Lowell, was quick to inform the committee at the start of proceedings that he had advised his client not to respond to any questions and invoke his right to silence. 

Tonna refused to speak to reporters when arriving and leaving parliament on Wednesday, saying only 'good day' in response to questions. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

He told the committee that Tonna had been asked questions about the Electrogas deal by an inquiring magistrate and therefore he may be a suspect in ongoing investigations. 

Tonna Lowell added that he did not know for certain that his client was a suspect, but had advised his client not to answer questions nonetheless. 

Committee chairman, Opposition MP Beppe Fenech Adami, however, said he could not allow the witness to simply leave and questions would still be put to him.  

[attach id=1049046 type="video"]Brian Tonna being questioned by the Public Accounts Committee. [/attach]

Tonna proceeded to roll off the phrase”I choose not to reply” to a long series of questions being put to him by Opposition MPs Karol Aquilina and Ryan Callus ranging from what his profession is and what his role in company Nexia BT is, to specifics of his involvement in the power station project. 

Did he ever meet Joseph Muscat or Keith Schembri before the 2013 election? Where was his office in the Auberge de Castille? Had he ever met Cheng Chen. Does he know who owns Egrant? Where did he first go to school? 

Like a church sermon, Tonna repeated the phrase “I choose not to reply” over and over to every question.

The Electrogas deal, which was one of Labour's flagship 2013 manifesto proposals, has been mired in corruption allegations, including kickbacks in secret Panama companies belonging to former energy minister Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.

Tonna's financial advisory firm, Nexia BT, set up the secret Panama companies for Schembri and Mizzi, who were set to receive money from former Electrogas shareholder Yorgen Fenech's 17 Black and another company, Macbridge, revealed to be linked to Cheng Chen

After an hour of back and forth with Tonna, the committee resolved to request the Speaker of the House deliver a ruling on whether the witness could refuse to answer all questions.  

The government members of the committee choose not to ask any questions until the ruling is delivered. 

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