Former Enemalta board member Lara Boffa had voted against a decision to award the power station contract to the Electrogas consortium, Times of Malta can reveal.
Boffa was one of five board members called on during an extraordinary board meeting to endorse a decision by an Enemalta selection committee to choose Electrogas as the preferred bidders for the controversial project.
The selection committee and board were working to tight deadlines, given the newly elected Labour government’s pledge to deliver a functioning power station within 18 months.
Contacted by Times of Malta about her vote, Boffa said she felt that the presentation given during the October 12, 2013 board meeting did not provide sufficient information.
She said that she was therefore not convinced about the proposal being put forward, which was to award the contract to Electrogas, with the Endeavor consortium being marked as the reserve bidder.
“Consequently, I had voted against,” she said.
Boffa’s appointment on the Enemalta board the following year was not renewed.
The presentation was given by David Galea, a close associate of former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi, who was appointed to oversee the entire selection process.
Mizzi’s Panama Papers advisers Nexia BT were also heavily represented on the selection committee, with Nexia’s managing partner Brian Tonna leading the financial assessment of the Electrogas bid and that of its competitor, together with two other Nexia officials.
Proposal approved by 4-1 margin
Enemalta’s chairman at the time, Charles Mangion, along with three other board members, including current Enemalta chairman Jonathan Scerri, had overruled Boffa’s concerns by voting in favour of endorsing the selection committee’s preferred choice.
Mangion told Times of Malta last week that he had declared a potential conflict of interest from the outset of his appointment to Enemalta in 2013, having had long-standing ties to Tumas Group, one of the Electrogas shareholders.
He nonetheless voted in favour of the decision to award the contract to Electrogas, saying at that stage the selection committee had already made its decision.
A comprehensive investigation by the Auditor General published in 2018 questioned why the Electrogas and Endeavor consortium bids were treated differently by the selection committee.
The National Audit Office said material shortcomings were found in the Electrogas bid and that of the other shortlisted finalist, the Endeavor consortium, both bids were deemed to be materially complete.
The report found that the selection committee only referred matters for legal consideration with respect to the Electrogas bid.
This difference in treatment was of concern to the NAO for it indicated that the level of assurance sought with respect to the bid by Electrogas was not applied in the case of the bid by the Endeavor Consortium.
Mizzi had assured at the time that the Enemalta selection process was a “rigorous” one.
The former energy minister has so far avoided testifying about the contract before parliament’s public accounts committee, despite receiving multiple summons over the past weeks.
Mizzi resigned from cabinet in November 2019, a few days after power station investor Yorgen Fenech was arrested and later charged with complicity in journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.
It has since emerged that Mizzi and Fenech enjoyed an extremely close relationship.
Mizzi has denied plans outed in the Panama Papers leak to receive millions from Fenech’s once-secret company 17 Black.