The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

17 Black: Our system is broken; we need to fix it – Godfrey Farrugia

Saturday, 10 November 2018, 13:39 Last update: about 2 years ago

Partit Demokratiku has today renewed its call for the immediate suspension of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri from all government activity, "pending the outcome of a police criminal investigation into their intended dealings with 17 Black, a Dubai company owned by Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech"

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri established two secret business ventures in Panama. "Their advisors, Nexia BT, said that these companies intended to transact with Fenech's 17 Black and estimated that Mizzi and Schembri would earn €150,000 per month from this business relationship. All plans were made when Fenech's Tumas Group was bidding for the Delimara Gas-fired Power Station Project as part of the Electrogas consortium and Enemalta, which fell under the political responsibility of Mizzi, was negotiating the bid," a PD statement read.

In comments, PD party leader Godfrey Farrugia said, "decency calls on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat not to be surrounded with the likes of his Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and Minister Konrad Mizzi. Joseph Muscat has persistently failed to act in Malta's interests. He can no longer ignore this."

Farrugia added: "Public sector officers and people's representatives should never engage in any kind of personal commercial relationship with a company with which they are dealing in an official capacity. There is evidence that Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and Minister Konrad Mizzi intended to do just that in the 17 Black affair."

"It appears that the original plans of Mizzi and Schembri were only thwarted because every bank in the world that they approached came to a common conclusion: Their plans stank."

"17 Black shows how the system is broken. It is our job to fix it," Farrugia added.

PD MP Marlene Farrugia said: "The evidence has to be investigated by local police. What have the police done over the past 7 months since they received the FIAU report naming Yorgen Fenech as the owner of 17 Black? Who knows about the investigation? Are we sure nobody in government got wind of this before yesterday?"

PD Deputy Leader Timothy Alden said: "17 Black is the latest episode in a saga that paints big business as too close to politics. We need to build a system that is fit for purpose: one that prioritises the interests of citizens and ensures that everyone plays by the rules. We cannot afford to have government officials in business with people who are meant to deliver the best deal for us all."

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