The Malta Independent 18 June 2018, Monday

‘No threats, no fear’ – Adrian Delia on ElectroGas deal

Helena Grech Sunday, 25 February 2018, 10:30 Last update: about 5 months ago

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia lambasted the notion that he cannot speak about the ElectroGas deal which led to the new power station at Delimara, in response to a story carried by The Malta Independent earlier this week.

“I am not for sale,” Delia stressed in a lengthy interview with this newsroom yesterday in which he delved into his thoughts about the Delimara power station, corruption in Malta and his vision for the country.

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“I am open to anybody bringing any proof suggesting that I have ever done anything remotely illegal, immoral or however you want to define it,” the Opposition leader confidently said.

Earlier this week, this newsroom carried a story outlining a link between Delia and one of the companies which used to form part of the ElectroGas consortium, Gasol plc. Allegations making the rounds on Twitter had suggested that Delia could not speak out about the deal because of a possible conflict of interest.

This newsroom described how Aequitas Trust and Fiduciary, in which Delia is a shareholder and of which he was previously a director, provided services to an intermediary company called Tradexec. Aequitas Trust holds one share of Tradexec, which handled the raising of finance, through a bond issue, for Gasol.

Delia emphasised at length that Aequitas Trust provided services to the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) of Tradexec. He said the client would be the UBO, and not the company.

The Malta Independent on Sunday has ascertained through publically available documentation that while Delia was a director of Aequitas Trust and Fiduciary he was not on the Tradexec board of directors.

“Tradexec had shareholders, and Aequitas Trust held one share in the company. The trust is a licensed nominee, all by the book under the MFSA with necessary due diligence done.

“It would have been illegal for me to know about the business of Tradexec, because I am not a director. I was a shareholder and my relationship was with the UBO of Tradexec, and not the company itself.”

He stressed in the strongest possible terms the difference between his law firm, Aequitas Legal, and Aequitas Trust and Fiduciary: “With this scenario, I am proving to you how the relationship did not exist with Gasol, let alone a conflict of interest.”

Delia took exception to the suggestion that he has kept quiet about the shady deal because of a conflict of interest: “I am not speaking about it now because the furore it caused happened before my time. Now, the furore is about Vitals, so I am talking about that. If something is happening with MCAST, I will speak about that and if something is happening with constitutional amendments, I will most certainly speak about that.”

Asked whether he would comment should anything happen with the ElectroGas deal today, Delia clearly said “absolutely”.

“As a matter of fact, in this matter, I had no interest so I cannot have a conflict.”

Pressed on the fact that there is still one cent making its way into his bank account through the connection, loose as it may be, Delia hit back: “If a company associated with me has a client who pays me a flat fee for services rendered, and that client gave a service to somebody else, and I can’t speak about that somebody else because of my client’s services, then there is not a single person who can enter politics, ever, on anything. It just does not make sense”.

Delia said the implication that he cannot speak about Gasol plc or the ElectroGas consortium “could not be further from the truth”.

 

‘Did we need the power station in the first place? Absolutely not.’

Delia questioned the need for the ElectroGas deal in the light of millions invested on the Malta-Sicily interconnector, and in view of the fact that “70 per cent at any given time comes from the interconnector”. Delia highlighted that energy from the interconnector is ultimately cheaper.

“If you ask me who ElectroGas belongs to… I don’t care; if the deal is wrong it is wrong. If the deal was only made to fleece us of public funds, then it is wrong. I will not shy away from saying that about the Electrogas deal, or Vitals, or on whoever is behind Vitals. I have been screaming my head off in Parliament asking questions, and nobody has replied. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was jittery; Konrad Mizzi did not give replies either.”

Delia also hit back at questions about his ability to take government to task by pointing out that any MP has the right at law to take the government to court, as he did recently over the 30-year hospitals concession contract signed with Vitals Global Healthcare.

“I had the guts to go to court and file a lawsuit against a deal worth €2 billion. Other might have feared retaliation of a counter-case worth €2 billion. Nobody is going to shut me up”.

“No threats, no fear, no money.”

 

Self due-diligence

The Malta Independent on Sunday quizzed the Opposition Leader about whether he has carried out an internal due-diligence on himself to ascertain and pre-empt any possible conflict of interests. Many have raised concerns about the man due to his long career as a commercial litigator, and all the issues that his history can bring with him during his life in politics.

Asked about whether he has carried out the exercise, Delia said: “You know what I did? I slept on it, I thought about whether there was anything at all that for one minute could open the door to hell and I could be invited in because I defaulted in a particular scenario, or I made the wrong decision. There is none.

“I don’t know what my clients do independently of me.

“There was never once in my whole life where I took the easy way out, and accepted to do some deal against any payment. Not in my personal life, neither in my professional life.

“Not even during my time in football, where I risked my life, my career and my family, simply to fight against corruption.”

Delia was president of Birkirkara FC prior to putting his name down as a contender for the PN leadership race last summer.

 

Threats to the family

Delia said this information is all public, and when he took up the fight against corruption in football, he had received serious threats.

“It was public when I went to the council of the Malta Football Association, and my wife left the country with my children out of fear.

“I was accused of taking the law into my own hands because I had the guts to find the people who were running a corruption cartel in Maltese football which is equivalent to about €70 million per season. Nobody wanted to say anything about it, but I spoke out publicly”.

During this point in the interview, the Opposition leader exclaimed that this is why he felt so outraged and “hurt” about the implication that he has been muzzled because of some interests he may have.

“I stood alone, against everybody for five years, and that is why this article hurt me so badly because it suggested everything that I am not, and I am not afraid.”

‘It is the only thing that defines my whole life, I was never afraid.’

He stressed that there is “nothing” in his career that could come back to haunt him.

“Why did I not bring proof disproving previous allegations about me, it is because the person who is making the allegations that needs to bring the proof.”

 

Concerns about Delia and the construction industry

Delia was also recently hit with criticism for ‘courting’ the construction lobby, which raised concerns given the PN’s stance in favour of sustainable development.

On this, Delia said it was “absolute bull”.

“I have a percentage share which I have always declared; it’s called Mgarr Developments, it's one project in one company.

“I meet people here, who come and talk to me about their separation, about their husband beating them, about the projects they have. I meet everyone. Just because I meet people, it does not mean I am courting them, it means I am listening to them. Why wouldn’t I listen to these people? Where would I get my information? How do I understand what people want?

“How do we understand where our economy wants to go, how do we decide on the good projects and the bad projects, where to develop and where not to develop, without meeting and speaking to people?”

Delia said he draws the line at the suggestion that he is in somebody’s pocket, calling this “unacceptable”.

“That is my scathing generic statement across the board: In construction we are not planning anything but reacting to who puts the most pressure on a particular project. Malta is not massive, and we need to plan seriously for 30 years, we need to question how many people will be here in that time frame.

“In terms of the environment the government has no plan, like there is no plan for health or for education - the plan is to make more money for the few.

 

Close to 700,000 permanent residents in Malta, yet no policy to manage this

Delia spoke of a Malta Employers Association study where it was found that there are close to 700,000 permanent residents in Malta.

“I agree with a national master plan. Unfortunately, because it’s good, nice and intelligent, it does not make the news. It is not tragic.

He said the PN is working on a plan fuelled by his vision for the country.

 

Malta could be the first green country in the world

Delia questioned why nobody discusses how Malta could be the first green country in the world, focusing on wind, solar and wave energy.

“Nobody speaks about this, we speak about making the Kyoto environmental restrictions 10 per cent instead of 20 per cent, and how to exchange green coupons in order to escape our obligations and get away scot-free from our national obligations.”

He questioned why there is a discussion on petrol stations, and how many we should have when the discussion should be about building electric stations if Malta really wants to turn to electric cars.

“Politicians do not do these things because they will not win votes, I will do it.

“I think principles come first, and if you explain how those principles can actually change people’s lives for the better can get the votes. Everybody wants to live in a cleaner country, free from corruption and pollution.”

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