Konrad Mizzi had appointed Nexia BT, who assisted him in setting up a secret company in Panama soon after the election, to act as advisers to the government on the new LNG power plant, the Times of Malta is informed.

It also emerged that, soon after the award of the €420 million project to Electrogas, Nexia BT were appointed auditors of the only Maltese shareholder in the consortium, GEM Holdings, which includes the Tumas and Gasan groups.

Contacted by this newspaper, a spokesman for Nexia BT confirmed that one of its subsidiaries, Nexia BT Advisory Services, was appointed by the government to act as adviser in relation to the LNG power plant procurement. At the same time, the company had been appointed by Enemalta to assist it in the processing of the permits required for the multi-million plant.

Asked whether there was a clear conflict of interest, while confirming that Nexia was also the auditor of GEM Holdings Ltd, the spokesman said this happened “after the award of the project”. “This means there was no conflict of interest at the relevant time,” he said.

“Moreover, and in addition, the audit engagement partner and the audit team on the audit of GEM Holdings Ltd was not in any way involved in the LNG power plant advisory service provided to the government and Enemalta,” the spokesman added.

This means there was no conflict of interest at the relevant time

Even Enemalta, which, in December 2013, awarded Nexia BT a direct order worth over €40,000 for support in the LNG power plant permit application, denied any conflict of interest.

“The indicated contract refers to one of several providers required in the development of the new gas-fired electricity plant and related LNG facilities at Delimara,” an Enemalta spokesman said. “Enemalta is informed that the indicated company was not providing services to, or had any conflict of interest with, GEM Holdings or any other entity involved in the new gas power station project at the time of the award or before,” he told the Times of Malta.

GEM Holdings was set up in May 2013 and holds a 33 per cent stake in Electrogas, with the other shareholders being Siemens and Socar.

While the Tumas, Gasan and CP Holdings (owned by Paul Apap Bologna) own 30 per cent in GEM, another shareholder, New Energy Supply Limited, holds the remaining 10 per cent.

The latter is the only one of the four companies involved in GEM Holdings that is audited by Nexia BT. Its shares are owned by Yorgen Fenech, of the Tumas Group.

According to the Panama Papers, soon after Labour’s return to power, Nexia BT started enquiries with Panama’s Mossack Fonseca about the possibility of opening a number of shell companies in Panama and trusts in New Zealand for Maltese clients.

It later resulted that Nexia BT arranged for both Dr Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, to open trusts in New Zealand and companies in Panama. Both had failed to declare the opening of the trusts with the Inland Revenue Department on time as required by law.

Nexia are also the auditors of Mr Schembri’s personal business – the Kasco Group.

The Times of Malta reported last week that, since March 2013, Nexia BT and its subsidiaries received more than €700,000 in contracts from the Office of the Prime Minster and entities falling under Dr Mizzi’s political control.

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com