The Malta Independent 16 July 2019, Tuesday

Revealed: Mossack Fonseca handled both Gasol parent company and Konrad Mizzi

David Lindsay Sunday, 10 April 2016, 09:00 Last update: about 4 years ago

Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal, dealt with the offshore financial structure of beleaguered Energy and Health Minister Konrad Mizzi as well as the affairs of the parent company of former Delimara power station partner Gasol, The Malta Independent on Sunday can reveal.

Gasol’s parent company and majority owner, African Gas Development Corporation Limited, is registered at and controlled out of the offices of none other than Mossack Fonseca in the Seychelles.

Mossack Fonseca had also opened a Malta offshoot in May 2013 under BT International, which is owned by Nexia BT. And it was Nexia BT that had, in turn, “advised” Energy and Health Minister Konrad Mizzi to take on his Panamanian company from ATC Administrators, which, according to Panama Papers leaks, was also controlled by Mossack Fonseca.

This newspaper reported on 20 March that Gasol had sold its 30 per cent shareholding in the Electrogas consortium for a sum estimated to have been in the region of tens of millions of euros on 22 July 2015.  That was the very same day that Dr Mizzi’s company in Panama, Hearnville Inc., had been transferred from ATC Administrators to Dr Mizzi’s New Zealand trust.

Gasol’s majority shareholder was controlled from Mossack Fonseca Seychelles

Today this newspaper can report that the registered address of African Gas Development Corporation Limited (AGDC) is the business address of Mossack Fonseca’s offices in the Seychelles – meaning that Gasol’s majority shareholder was controlled from the Mossack Fonseca Seychelles office and its board meetings would have also been held at the premises. 

The address (Suite 13, First Floor, Oliaji Trade Centre, Francis Rachel Street, Victoria Mahe, Seychelles) is a brass plate address for AGDC and other offshore companies, or International Business Companies (IBCs), registered by Mossack Fonseca in the Seychelles.


The Malta-Seychelles-Mossack Fonseca connection

The facts are as follows:

Dr Mizzi has vehemently denied any connection between the events of 22 July 2015, when Gasol cashed in its Electrogas shares and when Dr Mizzi had taken control of his Panamanian company from ATC Administrators when he had the company transferred to his New Zealand trust.

The Maltese branch of Mossack Fonseca is held by a company owned by Brian Tonna, BT International. Mr Tonna’s other firm, Nexia BT, has been named by Dr Mizzi himself as the firm that had “advised” him on his Panamanian company and New Zealand trust set up. 


Mossack Fonseca Malta established in May 2013

Mossack Fonseca Malta was established in May 2013, just two months after the Labour government was swept to electoral victory, largely on the back of its energy plan, which featured the new power station in Delimara as a central component.

BT International, which is completely owned by Mr Tonna, holds 100 per cent of the Mossack Fonseca Malta’s shares, although Mr Tonna insists that the shares are held by his company “purely on a fiduciary basis”. This effectively means that the identity of the ultimate beneficial owners of Mossack Fonseca Malta is kept under lock and key. 

Mr Tonna is the managing partner at Nexia BT, the company that provided Dr Mizzi with the “politically naïve” advice, as it was described by the Prime Minister, to the minister on his international financial structure, which has been called into serious question since it was revealed weeks before the Panama Papers began being leaked last Sunday.

Quizzed about the dynamics of the setup between BT International, Nexia BT and Mossack Fonseca Malta by our sister daily newspaper earlier this week, Mr Tonna stated, “As you are aware we are bound to keep our clients’ identity and affairs strictly confidential. We regret, therefore, that we are unable to respond to any of your queries.”

It has been reported that Nexia BT had also advised Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri on his similar financial setup. And while the full extent of the Panama Papers leaks will emerge in May, information released so far indicates that Mr Schembri also had a Panamanian company – Tillgate Inc., which was also previously owned and controlled by Mossack Fonseca’s ATC Administrators – and a New Zealand trust – Haast Trust, which had reportedly been established in tandem with Dr Mizzi’s structure through Mossack Fonseca.


The 22 July 2015 connections

This newspaper had reported on 20 March how Dr Mizzi’s Panamanian company had been transferred to his New Zealand trust on the same day that Gasol sold its Electrogas shareholding to the consortium’s remaining partners for an undisclosed sum, but one which is estimated to have run into the region of tens of millions of euros, according to financial specialists who have spoken to this newspaper.

According to documentation published by this newspaper, some of which had been made available by Dr Mizzi himself and some of which was retrieved from company records at the Malta Financial Services Authority, that date was 22 July 2015.

The date on which Hearnville Inc., the Panamanian “shell” company, as Dr Mizzi describes it, was put in the name of Dr Mizzi’s New Zealand Rotorua Trust from its previous owner, ATC Administrators Inc, was on the same day, 22 July 2015, as the exit of Gasol plc from the Electrogas consortium in Malta, and within a week from the finalisation of the government’s conclusion of state guarantees for the consortium’s financing.

According to a letter shown to this newspaper by Dr Mizzi and published by this newspaper on 6 March 2016, ATC Administrators Inc. held all the shares in the company, Hearnville Inc., in its name and for Dr Mizzi’s exclusive benefit from 2 June to 21 July 2015, confirming that the company was passed into his trust on 22 July 2015.

Gasol transferred its 30 per cent shareholding in the Electrogas consortium to the remaining partners on 22 July 2015, a share transfer document filed on 28 July 2015 with the Malta Financial Services Authority shows. 

After the share transfer, Electrogas partners SOCAR and Siemens increased their stakes in the consortium from 20 per cent to 33 per cent each, with their Maltese partner GEM Holdings increasing its stake from 30 per cent to 33 per cent, so that all partners today hold an equal stake in the shareholding of Electrogas.

Dr Mizzi had brushed off the date in question as a matter of pure coincidence, while the Prime Minister on the day of the story’s publication had, instead of saying it would be investigated, called it “hogwash” – even though the dates published by this newspaper were sourced from official documents.

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