See lists of gifts below  - Oil trader George Farrugia this evening disclosed a list of expensive gifts he gave to former Enemalta chairmen and other officials of the corporation and the Fuel Procurement Committee but said they were meant 'to thank' rather than to 'induce' anything.

He also said that he made a €2,000 donation to minister Austin Gatt's electoral campaign in 2008 on instructions by his brother Raymond, but he did not know what the donation was for. 

Mr Farrugia gave the details during his second appearance before the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Farrugia is at the centre of the oil procurement scandal, having been given a Presidential pardon for information on illegal commissions paid on oil consignments.

The PAC is considering oil procurement procedures on and around 2008.

At the beginning of this evening's sitting Mr Farrugia submitted a list of gifts he handed out for Christmas.

He said that up to 2010 he gave gifts on behalf of Power Plan and then on behalf of his own company.

Among those who received gifts were (Enemalta chairman) William Spiteri Bailey with a gift worth €360, and a watch worth €1,333 to Enemalta CFO  Antoine Galea.

He also handed out various hampers.

In the following year he gave Dr Spiteri Bailey cuff links worth €1,044 and Mr Antoine Galea another gift of cuff links of €997.

He also gave jewellery items to former Enemalta chairmen Tancred Tabone and Alex Tranter (€700) and Enemalta officials Frank Sammut, Ray Attard and Pippo Pandolfino, among others. Most were bought from Azzopardi jewellers. Enemalta official Karl Camilleri was handed a painting of Valletta worth €1,135.

Edmond Gatt Baldacchino (an Enemalta acting chairman) was given another painting worth some €1,200. A third painting was given to Antoine Galea. It was worth over €900.

Ray Ferris, involved in the MOBC privatisation process was presented with three centre pieces worth Lm3,300.

Hugh Attard Montalto, who was involved in MOBC, was presented hampers.

At the requests of Frank Sammut and Tancred Tabone, separately, Mr Farrugia said he also sponsored two parties costing some €2,000 each. (See full lists below)

Replying to other questions by Dr Bonnici, Mr Farrugia said he had given the gifts to the Enemalta officials because of their capacity within Enemalta, but he pointed out he presented the gift to Mr Gatt Baldacchino even though he knew he was leaving. Maybe the gifts were excessive, but no one asked him for any gift, he said.

DONATION TO AUSTIN GATT'S CAMPAIGN

In the 2008 electoral campaign his brother Raymond sent him to a political activity organised by Austin Gatt and he made a donation of €2,000.

He said he did not present the €2,000 directly to Austin Gatt and he doubted that Dr Gatt even knew about them. He handed the donation to somebody else who was at the activity, possibly his son or a helper. He did not knew much as he did not usually attend political events. The contacts with politicians were usually handled by his brother.

During questioning on why the donation was made to Dr Gatt, Mr Farrugia said he did not know.

Dr Beppe Fenech Adami (PN) noted that Dr Gatt was not minister for Enemalta at the time.

Asked if other candidates on the Hamrun district were similarly assisted, Mr Farrugia said he did not know.

In 2010 when he became more involved in John's Garage, he found that in 2009 some €40,000 were spent in Christmas gifts by the company but he did not know who the gifts were handed to.

Mr Farrugia said Antoine Galea asked him to take the watch back, but he did not. The others accepted their gifts.

Parliamentary Secretary Owen Bonnici warned Mr Farrugia he had to say the whole truth. He asked why he gave those gifts he said he felt he should do. He was a bit high on the presents given, but this was reality.

Asked if he had needed to dispose of cash, possibly coming from another illegal activity, Mr Farrugia denied that was the case. He said he did bring cash from abroad, but only as a result of legal work.

He did not receive cash from illegal activities, including sales of diesel he said to repeated questioning.

He said he had bought diesel from Frank Sammut and it was delivered in an MOBC bowser. He had told the police about this.

Asked by committee chairman Jason Azzopardi (PN) if the gifts were' to thank or to induce,' Mr Farrugia said they were 'to thank' and no one asked him for the gifts.

GIFT TO THE LABOUR PARTY

On the gift of a car to the Labour Party, Mr  Farrugia said that what he remembered was that a car was donated to the PL. The donation was by the company, not by him personally.

The car, he said, was presented to the Labour Party at around 2002 when JF motors started to represent Daewoo. He did not know the details of the donation and whether it was in return for advertising. There had also been a period of bad advertising for Daewoo.

Dr Beppe Fenech Adami (PN) asked who had made the bad advertising for Daewoo, a consequence of which the Daewoo representation ended up in the JF Motors hands.

It was worth recalling, Dr Fenech Adami pointed out, that the bad advertising was made by the Labour Party, the Daewoo agency then ended up in JF hands and they donated a car to Labour.

Mr Farrugia said there was a period of bad advertising. JF never spoke to Labour to carry out the bad campaign.

He did not know the details but knew that JP did advertise on One TV (owned by the Labour Party).

RELATIONSHIP WITH FRANK SAMMUT

Asked how he knew Frank Sammut and whether they used to attend religious activities in Mosta in the past, Mr Farrugia said he did not remember any although once he did take his father to a religious event in Mosta after he was told about it by Alfred Mallia.

He also attended meetings of a neocatecumincal community in Mosta but did not know that Mr Sammut attended as well.

TANCRED TABONE TOLD FARRUGIA HE WOULD BECOME ENEMALTA CHAIRMAN

Mr Farrugia said he had learnt that Tancred Tabone was to be appointed chairman of Enemalta some time before the appointment. He was told by Mr Tabone himself.

Dr Bonnici pointed out that in 2003 he had already been giving money to Mr Tabone and Frank Sammut. Why did Mr Tabone feel the need to tell him that he was to be appointed chairman?

Mr Farrugia said he did not know.

He gave money to Mr Tabone after he was appointed chairman. Before, he had only been giving money to Frank Sammut and he learnt later that some of the money was going to Mr Tabone.

Mr Farrugia confirmed that Mr Sammut was known within and outside Enemalta as 'Mr 10 per cent'. Before Mr Tabone's appointment, Mr Sammut was chairman of MOBC (the Enemalta oil bunkering arm). When Mr Tabone was appointed chairman, he became his consultant and a member of the Fuel Procurement Committee.

'AG' WAS AUSTIN GATT

Dr Bonnici asked Mr Farrugia to explain an e-mail he had sent Tancred Tabone when he was chairman where he said he wanted to discuss a meeting with 'AG'.

He said that with his brother Raymond he had attended a meeting with Austin Gatt - AG - aboutcar leasing. The meeting was held at the ministry in Valletta. He had asked who would be the Enemalta chairman and the minister had confirmed to him it would be Tancred Tabone. He did not show the minister that he knew already.

Replying to other questions, Mr Farrugia confirmed that he had sought to put Trafigura in a dominant position in oil bunkering and oil supplies, and said storage facilities were the key. He said he had discussed his plan with Tancred Tabone but did not recall ever discussing it with Austin Gatt, despite having said so in an e-mail to his overseas partners. That, he said, was bluff.

Asked if Mr Tabone was ready to help him, given the substantial gifts, Mr Tabone, slowly, replied 'yes' but said this did not happen.

Dr Bonnici noted that in another e-mail, this time to Total in 2004, Mr Farrugia had spoken of another meeting with Dr Gatt on cooperation regarding aviation between Enemalta and Air Total.

Mr Farrugia confirmed that meetings had been held. Air Total had even been prepared to send their own bowsers to Malta but nothing happened despite meetings which involved Mr Tabone and later Alex Tranter.  The same old bowsers were still in use today.

Asked how familiar he was with Dr Gatt, Mr Farrugia said they met every two months or over a longer period, in his constituency office.

Mr Farrugia said the tenders were won because they were the most advantageous owing to the local storage facilities, which were his own idea.

Replying to questions on payments he made, Mr Farrugia said he initially paid 50c per tonne and later 25c per ton of oil around 2005. He gave Tancred Tabone $100,000 or slightly more directly and another $300,000 shared between Mr Tabone and Mr Sammut.  The under the table payments were made via Powerplan Ltd to Mr Tabone and Mr Sammut. Later payments were made through Aikon Ltd in Malta or through a Swiss Bank account called Aikon from 2003 to 2005.

Asked how his companies won more tenders when Alex Tranter was chairman of Enemalta, Mr Farrugia said the issue was competitiveness.

LEGAL ASSISTANCE REFUSED

After a short break, Mr Farrugia gave details in reply to questions on the manner of his arrest. He said he was held for 48 hours minus five minutes. He was offered to consult a lawyer but refused. He said he initially made no statement. They he was told that the (then) prime minister had offered a presidential pardon. He then consulted a lawyer and the pardon was negotiated.

At the time Frank Sammut had already been interrogated.

Asked about an e-mail to Frank Sammut dated  September 24, 2004, Mr Farrugia said he was not clear about it, but it may have involved a cheque he issued to Frank Sammut so that he could buy some antique furniture.

FAMILY MEMBERS, LAWYERS KNEW OF BRIBERY

Mr Farrugia also replied to a series of questions by Dr Fenech Adami about the problems with the rest of his family in 2010. Mr Farrugia said claims as high as €40m had been made against him for syphoning off profits from the oil business from the family company (Power Plan Ltd)  to his own company (Aikon) before a settlement was made.

He admitted the others knew of the under-the-table deals.

Dr Fenech Adami observed that all those around the table had known of the bribes going back 10 years. Had any threats or blackmail been made that matters would be revealed?

Mr Farrugia said that Tony Debono, a consultant for the family business, used to ask him for 'something extra'. He never gave him anything. Debono told businessman Ronnie Agius that he wanted to destroy him (Farrugia) and attempted to do so.

Dr Fenech Adami said he could have destroyed him by revealing all - but could not do so because he had himself known what was happening and done nothing about it. Or he could have leaked the information.

Mr Farrugia said Tony Debono 'picked the right time'.

Dr Fenech Adami noted that in 2010 Power Plan had two lawyers, Dr Farrugia Sacco and (from 2010) Dr Manuel Mallia, who was engaged to intervene in the family negotiations. One would assume that the bribery was mentioned in these talks. Therefore Dr Mallia knew of the bribery since 2010?

Dr Farrugia replied 'yes'.

Dr Fenech Adami asked if Dr Mallia blackmailed him that if no settlement was reached, he would report the case.

Mr Farrugia replied 'yes'.

Dr Fenech Adami said that Dr Mallia therefore in attempts to arm twist him had threatened him that if no settlement was reached the bribery would be revealed.

Mr Farrugia replied in the affirmative.

Dr Fenech Adami asked if Dr Mallia actually wrote to Mr Farrugia mentioning money laundering and other criminal activity.

Mr Farrugia replied 'possibly, documents existed'.

Interjecting, Parliamentary Secretary Bonnici stressed that Dr Mallia was acting as the family's lawyer, who was bound by professional secrecy.

Dr Fenech Adami said Dr Mallia was the lawyer of the family in its dispute with Mr Farrugia, and professional secrecy did not apply in the case of Mr Farrugia.

Dr Bonnici said Mr Farrugia was also a shareholder of Power Plan.

'AUST' IN MARCH 2005 E-MAIL

Replying to another question on an e-mail to Tancred Tabone on March 21,2005 where he requested a meeting after meeting 'Aust', Mr Farrugia said 'Aust' was Austin Gatt but he did not know what was discussed. It could have been issues of oil storage.

The sitting ended at 8.40pm at the request of Mr Farrugia's request because he was tired. Mr Farrugia will be asked to appear again on January 13.

 

 

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