The Malta Independent 19 January 2020, Sunday

Egrant report: Inquiry uncovers offshore Malta-China investment entity involving 'Sai'

Tuesday, 17 December 2019, 17:38 Last update: about 2 months ago

Former minister Konrad Mizzi and former OPM Chief Keith Schembri had discussed the possibility of setting up a company to promote Chinese investment in Malta.

The company - MACffIN - was to be controlled by a British Virgin Islands (offshore) firm and would be set up with a certain person named 'Sai'.

This could be Sai Mizzi Liang - Konrad Mizzi's wife, the magistrate noted.

Like Panama, the BVI is considered as a secretive jurisdiction. 

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This information is contained in the Egrant report, which was published in full by Opposition Leader Adrian Delia, on Tuesday evening.

Sai Mizzi Liang, Konrad Mizzi's wife


Konrad Mizzi was approached about these plans, to open a company, by Cheng Chen, an employee of a company involved in the due diligence of the Electrogas power station deal. Daphne Caruana Galizia had reported that Chen too had been "corrupted", and that Brian Tonna of Nexia BT had acquired for Chen a shelf company in the BVI - Torbridge Services Inc. This was at the same time that Tonna acquired his own BVI company - Willerby Trade Inc.

The Egrant inquiry identified an email sent on 24 June 2014 by Konrad Mizzi to Keith Schembri. It refers to an earlier email sent by Cheng Chen to Mizzi, in which the following is stated: "( ... )to discuss tomorrow ( ... )meeting with you (Mr. Mizzi), Keith (Mr. Keith Schembri) and Brian (Mr. Brian Torma) to finalize business model( ... ) energy related topics, real estate, tourism ( ... ) meeting with Maltese experts to understand the potential as off-shore investment hub for Chinese ( ... )"

"In further communication a close relationship between Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and Brian Tonna is evident," the Egrant report funds.

It speaks of talk on the creation of a Public Private Partnership called the MACHIN project - an entity for promotion of investment China/Malta which would be registered in Malta and 100% controlled by a holding company from BVI.

Magistrate (now Judge) Aaron Bugeja visits Pilatus Bank in 2017, as part of the inquiry


"This entity shall be authorised by the Maltese government as the only Maltese representative investment promotion agency in China. It is further on stated that the cooperative mechanism shall be set with a certain person named Sai. This could be Mrs. Sai Mizzi Liang, wife of Mr. Konrad Mizzi," the report continues.

An Emigration agency setup in China was also proposed. "Through this model a Value chain for Chinese Applicants has been created in order to be in a position to submit request for Maltese identity documents."

A letter of appointment was identified appointing Sai Mizzi Liang as Consul General in Shanghai by The President of Malta, on 5 September 2014.

Cheng Chen is a client of the company group BTI/Nexia, the report notes.

"They have provided him support in becoming the owner of the company Torbridge Services Inc from BVI. This company has an opened bank account in Pilatus bank." 

In the conclusions of the inquiry report - in a section that had not been published by the government last year - Bugeja instructs the police commissioner to launch an investigation into this structure.

Statement by the Konrad Mizzi

The Egrant Inc Inquiry report refers to a proposal for a Public Private Partnership received by the Government of Malta in 2014 from a Chinese national who, at the time, worked as a consultant with expertise in commerce and investment from China. This was a proposal for cooperation with the Government of Malta for the creation of an entity to be registered in Malta, which would serve as a catalyst for Chinese investors.

Government receives several proposals for investment, some of which take the shape of a cooperation with Government. The proposal mentioned in the Egrant Inquiry report was not pursued, was not developed, and was therefore declined. Sai Mizzi, who, at the time acted as the representative of Malta Enterprise in China, was not even approached to work on this proposal. 

I understand that all relevant information was available to the Inquiring Magistrate. I am satisfied that the Inquiry confirmed that I never had bank accounts at Pilatus Bank, never received funds from Azerbaijan, and never committed money laundering. All allegations made against me turned out to be false.


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