Former Electrogas director Paul Apap Bologna was directed not to reply to questions about whether he had brokered any deal for Socar Trading as he answered MPs' questions on Wednesday.

Lawyer Giannella de Marco directed her client not to entertain the questions being put by Nationalist Party MP Karol Aquilina, and instead insisted that such questions were beyond the remit of the Public Accounts Committee. 

Aquilina asked about Apap Bologna's relations with Socar and whether he had brokered any deal for the company, which is one of the partners in the Electrogas power station consortium. 

The development took place during a PAC sitting which continued to question Apap Bologna about the Electrogas deal and the National Audit Office report on the matter. 

The PAC is investigating a 2018 National Audit Office (NAO) report into the Electrogas deal which had flagged “multiple similarities” in the presentation about the project circulated by Apap Bologna and the eventual power station project undertaken by the Labour government in 2013.

Towards the end of the sitting, a shouting match erupted when de Marco objected to the line of questioning, saying she would not allow her client to be intimidated.

The series of tit-for-tat exchanges came to a head when Aquilina said: “At least I do not get paid by criminals,” drawing the ire from de Marco who drew the attention of PAC chairman Beppe Fenech Adami that the comment was “completely out of line”. 

De Marco quoted from a recent decision by Magistrate Rachel Montebello who noted that political comments ought not to be made during a parliamentary committee meeting. 

“Opinions about Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination, including political ones about the motive behind the murder, do not form part of the functions of the committee in question”, the magistrate had highlighted.

De Marco said Aquilina ought to respect a person’s right to a fair hearing as guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights. She noted that the line of questioning was going against what the court had ruled.

On this, Fenech Adami noted that the court’s decision was simple and had thrown out a claim by Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech that his right to the presumption of innocence had been breached by his declarations.

The lawyer proceeded to advise her client not to answer Aquilina’s questions. He also refused to answer questions on meetings he had held with Socar. 

Fenech Adami: 'A cut and paste job'

Much of Wednesday’s sitting was taken up by an analysis of a projects services agreement signed between Electrogas shareholders GEM Holdings, SOCAR, Gasol and Siemens and Fenech’s New Energy Supply Limited over the implementation of the power station project. For this, Fenech was due to be paid €1 million by GEM Holdings and a further €1.5 million by Gasol, another shareholder.   

Fenech Adami questioned Apap Bologna at length over the wording of this contract which he insisted seemed like a “cut and paste job”. He said that in one clause it says that GEM was engaging New Energy to provide a service and in a subsequent sentence it said GEM was agreeing to provide the service, leading him to think that it was done hastily.

Apap Bologna said he had not drawn up the contract himself, although he signed it but insisted that he would not accept insinuations that the document was fake.

The MPs asked Apap Bologna to bring copies of all similar contracts that had been signed at the next sitting. 

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