A review commissioned by Enemalta concluded that the state-owned energy company knew it was paying triple the original price for its shares in a Montenegro wind farm.
Enemalta brought in a legal firm to examine the Montenegro transaction after Times of Malta and Reuters revealed how murder suspect Yorgen Fenech secretly profited from the deal, via his once-secret company 17 Black.
A summary of the unnamed legal firm’s findings was published this month together with Enemalta’s latest financial filings for 2019.
Enemalta bought the Montenegro wind farm for €10.3 million, triple the €2.9 million paid just two weeks earlier by Cifidex.
Cifidex was the anonymous offshore vehicle that sold the wind farm shares to Enemalta in December 2015 for a considerable profit.
An investigation by Times of Malta and Reuters uncovered how Cifidex was owned by Turab Musayev, who used to sit on the Electrogas consortium board with Fenech.
Financial transactions showed how 17 Black had financed the €2.9 million used by Cifidex to buy the Montenegro shares, with Cifidex then kicking the profit back to 17 Black after selling the same shares to Enemalta for €10.3 million.
Despite being aware of the price differential, the law firm “indicated” that Enemalta was not aware of who owned Cifidex, according to the energy company’s summary of the report.
“The legal firm indicated that it was not possible for it to comment on the investment appraisal process because the process was not documented,” the summary reads.
No access to e-mails
The law firm’s work was further hampered by the fact that it did not have access to the e-mail accounts and e-mails of the Enemalta board of directors and employees “since directors do not hold a corporate e-mail account and corporate e-mails of employees who have since left the company were no longer available”.
The law firm was unable “to opine on the business rationale of the eventual contract price”, however, it was noted that Enemalta secured a suitable guaranteed rate of return on its investment in the project.
In its report, the legal firm highlighted that “there were shortcomings with respect to corporate governance”, including matters that “would not generally be expected to be present in similar transactions”. The summary did not detail these shortcomings.
Enemalta said that, after the presentation of the law firm’s report, it is committed to addressing the identified shortcomings through improved governance structures.
It said it has since introduced a risk management policy, an anti-money laundering policy as well as investment and procurement policies.
Documents show Cifidex was introduced into the Montenegro deal with Enemalta by Chen Cheng, a Chinese energy negotiator.
Cheng’s mother-in-law was last year outed by Times of Malta and Reuters as the owner of Macbridge.
Macbridge and 17 Black were identified in a leaked e-mail as the main potential source of funds for the Panama companies once owned by former government officials Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
Both deny any wrongdoing.
Prime Minister Robert Abela had kicked Mizzi out of Labour’s parliamentary group following revelations about the Montenegro deal.
Hours after the Montenegro revelations in June 2020, the police were quick to issue a press release saying they were already investigating the deal.
Last year, Abela had written to Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà demanding an investigation after Chen’s links to Macbridge were uncovered.
No one has been prosecuted yet.