Nexia BT, which featured prominently in Malta-related documents leaked by the Panama Papers, will be advising Wasteserv on new public-private projects, including a €150-million incinerator at Magħtab.

The consultancy firm was given a €44,000 direct order by the State’s waste management company, which falls under the political responsibility of Environment Minister José Herrera.

According to a notice in The Malta Government Gazette, the company owned by Brian Tonna will provide Wasteserv with “services of assistance in the setting up and monitoring of PPPs in relation to waste streams”. No details were given on the public-private partnerships in question.

Read:€600,000 in six months: direct orders to ‘friends’

Wasteserv is chaired by David Borg, a former aide to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat when he was an MEP in Brussels.

Mr Tonna has served as the independent auditor to the private business group – Kasco – owned by Keith Schembri, the Prime Minister’s closest aide. Together with Nexia BT, he also advises the Office of the Prime Minister and a number of government ministries and state entities.

Nexia BT has received hundreds of thousands of euros in direct orders since labour was returned to power in 2013

Nexia BT has received hundreds of thousands of euros in direct orders since Labour was returned to power in 2013.

Read: Nexia BT gets €130,000 in direct orders from Mizzi-led entity

Nexia BT and Mr Tonna were outed by the Panama Papers in 2016 as being the personal advisers to both Mr Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi when they opened secret companies in Panama and trusts in New Zealand.

The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit had also mentioned Mr Tonna, Mr Schembri and other individuals in reports on suspicious money laundering activities related to the sale of passports.

Contrary to strict international accounting rules, Mr Tonna had claimed he had received a €100,000 “loan” from Mr Schembri. The FIAU had found no proof of such loan and the matter is now being investigated by a magistrate. Accountants holding a warrant are precluded from engaging in business dealings and accepting loans from clients.

Read: €735,000 in OPM contracts to Panama Papers firm

It emerged last year that Mr Tonna was closely involved in the selection of Electrogas to build a €400-million new power station in Delimara against a security of supply agreement guaranteeing the winning consortium hundreds of millions of euros from the state electricity provider over 18 years.

Times of Malta reported that Mr Tonna, together with three Nexia BT staff members sat on the government’s selection committee handling the project. It is not yet known whether representatives of the consultancy firm or Mr Tonna would be sitting on the selection committee dealing with the up-coming lucrative incinerator.

The selection process is expected to start this year and works are scheduled for completion by 2023. 

PN reaction

In a reaction, the Nationalist Party said this direct order confirmed once more how close Nexia BT was to the government, to the detriment of other investors. 

The PN observed that Brian Tonna and Nexia BT had been given several major contracts by the government.

It said it remained committed to fighting corruption, strengthening the rule of law and providing a level playing field for investors. 

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