Former Electrogas director Paul Apap Bologna on Wednesday refused to answer any of the questions put to him during the fifth grilling sitting at a Public Accounts Committee meeting, remaining tight-lipped on questions on his closeness to former prime minister Joseph Muscat and various government ministers.
At the beginning of the sitting, Apap Bologna’s lawyer, Giannella de Marco, said that she had advised her client to invoke his right to silence as a result of "accusations and insinuations" levelled at her and her client in previous meetings.
In another sitting a week ago, de Marco had directed Apap Bologna not to entertain questions about whether he had brokered any deal for Socar Trading arguing that these went beyond the remit of the committee.
De Marco said Apap Bologna has a right to refuse to reply if the questions are "incriminating or tending to expose him", adding that the line of questioning by Opposition MPs was intended to expose her client. She said the law protected her client from incriminating questions.
PAC chair Beppe Fenech Adami said the witness can only invoke the right to silence if he felt that he could incriminate himself with the question being asked or if he was being criminally investigated over the matter.
The PAC is investigating a 2018 National Audit Office (NAO) report into the Electrogas deal which had flagged “multiple similarities” in the presentation about the project circulated by Apap Bologna and the eventual power station project undertaken by the Labour government in 2013.
Apap Bologna replied with a standard “I invoke my right to silence” to most of the questions asked.
PN MPs Fenech Adami, Karol Aquilina and Ryan Callus grilled Apap Bologna on his familiarity with various Labour ministers, with Aquilina asking him to confirm whether he had a table tennis table at home and if he often invited the former prime minister and ministers such as Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis to play.
Fenech Adami questioned Apap Bologna on whether he had introduced Socar prior to the 2013 general election, whether he met anyone from the Azerbaijani authorities and whether there was any “logical explanation” on why they had chosen to partner with a company owned by the Azerbaijan state.
In a one-off different reply, Apap Bologna clarified that he never introduced Socar but was introduced to Socar by Gasol.
Aquilina also asked whether Apap Bologna had received any payments from Socar, causing an uproar since it contained an insinuation.
At one point, government MP Glenn Beddingfield said the PN MPs should stop making insinuations and if they have any evidence of any wrongdoing or any money that changed hands, they should go to the police to report it.
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