Police are working with Europol to investigate revelations that Yorgen Fenech’s company 17 Black made millions through an Enemalta wind farm deal in Montenegro.
In a brief statement issued on Saturday, the police said they had started investigating the issue together with the EU law enforcement agency and “with the assistance of other competent authorities”.
The investigation had started “prior to media reports of the past hours,” the police added. The police statement did not elaborate on the extent of Europol's involvement.
Acting Police Commissioner Carmelo Magri told the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death last week that a 2018 request for information about 17 Black had not yielded any results.
The authorities have since turned to Europol in a bid to obtain records about 17 Black from Dubai.
Magri confirmed to the public inquiry that there had been some positive meetings between Europol and the authorities in Dubai which could help provide information in the future.
Prime Minister Robert Abela had on Friday demanded a full and prompt investigation into the claims and said he would have no qualms about sacking anyone found to be involved in the deal.
Late on Friday, the Daphne Caruana Galizia foundation had reiterated the need for Malta’s attorney general to initiate a Europol joint investigation team into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, saying it was evident that local law enforcement could not cope with the task at hand.
A joint investigation team involves multiple member states which pool policing resources to investigate complex crimes. There is no indication that the police's statement of collaboration with Europol refers to the creation of such a team.
In a statement on Saturday, NGO Repubblika echoed these calls, warning that as of now, Europol's involvement depended solely on requests by the Maltese police.
The group said a full joint investigation was all the more urgent as it had become clear that several top officials in the police force were compromised.
It also recalled that the police minister had been asked about a joint investigation into 17 Black back in April 2019, and had responded only that the case was subject to a magisterial inquiry.
The 17 Black-Montenegro investigation will centre on a joint report by Times of Malta and Reuters that revealed how Fenech’s secret company 17 Black booked a €4.6m “profit” from an Enemalta project to construct a wind farm in Montenegro.
The project, announced in late 2015, saw 17 Black finance a €2.9m share purchase by a third company, Cifidex, which then sold those same shares to Enemalta for triple the price just weeks later.
Six months after Enemalta bought the shares, Cifidex returned the original investment to 17 Black, together with €4.6 million marked as “profit”.
The timing of the deal coincides with an email financial advisers Nexia BT sent in which they sought to open bank accounts for two clients of theirs – former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri and former minister Konrad Mizzi.