A European prosecutor has claimed jurisdiction over a corruption probe into the Marsa flyover project.
In a November 2022 letter to the Justice Minister, retired judge Lawrence Quintano said the Permanent Commission Against Corruption (PCAC), which he chairs, is no longer probing the project.
Details of the letter were only tabled in parliament this week, following a parliamentary question by PN MP Karol Aquilina, who had requested the PCAC probe into the project.
Quintano said, however, that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office had exercised what is known as its power of evocation to take control of the investigation into the EU-funded flyover project.
This, Quintano said, put an abrupt halt to the PCAC’s own nascent investigation into the project.
Times of Malta revealed last year how Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech played a background role as a middleman in the project, against a promise of €2 million in “success fees”.
17 Black, according to a leaked Panama Papers e-mail, was set to wire millions to Panama companies owned by ex-government officials Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri
Half of those fees were planned to be funnelled to a secret offshore company linked to Fenech’s company 17 Black.
17 Black, according to a leaked Panama Papers e-mail, was set to wire millions to Panama companies owned by ex-government officials Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.
Fenech, Mizzi and Schembri all deny wrongdoing.
Ayhanlar, the Turkish contractor represented by Fenech, won the 2018 Marsa tender to build the flyover, fending off competition from a consortium of Maltese bidders, among others.
Its bid was just €500,000 lower than that of the Maltese consortium, RM Construction Ltd, V&C Contractors Ltd and Schembri Barbros.
Maltese consortium had second lowest bid
The Maltese consortium had the second lowest qualifying bid, after Ayhanlar’s.
However, an investigation by Times of Malta revealed how Ayhanlar was crippled by financial trouble just weeks into being awarded the contract.
Fenech’s role in the government tender led to insinuations of bribery by the Turkish billionaire who was later brought in to salvage the project.
Robert Yildirim, whose global group runs the Malta Freeport Terminals, insinuated in an e-mail exchange with Fenech that “bribing” could have played a role in the Tumas magnate’s efforts to help Ayhanlar secure the contract.
“What will you tell the court? Bribing someone but no payment,” Yildirim said in response to Fenech’s threats to sue him for failing to pay the success fees.
Yildirim claimed in comments to Times of Malta that he was just “testing” Fenech, to see if the €2 million success fees were linked to bribery.