Enemalta has refused to release a report confirming that the state-owned company was aware it was paying triple the original price to buy shares in a Montenegro wind farm project.
A freedom of information (FOI) request for the report filed by Times of Malta was rejected by Enemalta on grounds that there is “good reason for withholding the document requested," as the document is legally privileged.
The energy provider took the full 20 working days to reject the application, which was filed last month.
Times of Malta and Reuters previously uncovered how murder suspect Yorgen Fenech secretly profited from the 2015 deal, via 17 Black, the same company that was set to wire millions to former government officials Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
The report into the deal commissioned by Enemalta, summarised in the company’s 2019 accounts, was hampered by the fact that the unnamed law firm which carried it out did not have access to e-mail accounts and e-mails of Enemalta board of directors and also of its employees.
According to the summary of the report provided by Enemalta, 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 Enemalta summary of the report did not detail these shortcomings. Enemalta said it was committed to addressing them through improved governance structures.
It said it has since introduced a risk management policy, an anti-money laundering policy and investment and procurement policies.
A separate internal Enemalta audit into the deal had concluded there were due diligence omissions and a lack of professional scepticism by Enemalta’s board about the deal.
The “passive stance” taken by Enemalta during the negotiations was highlighted by the internal audit.
It found that early negotiations for the deal were carried out by Chinese negotiator Chen Cheng and the London-based Vestigo Capital.
Last year, Times of Malta and Reuters revealed that Cheng’s mother-in-law owns Macbridge, the company that was named alongside 17 Black as the other major source of income for Panama companies set up by Schembri and Mizzi.
A previous version of this article erroneously left out the stated reason for the FOI request being denied.
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