The Malta Independent 4 December 2021, Saturday

Former Electrogas director says he had attended Azerbaijan wedding with Yorgen Fenech

Jake Aquilina Wednesday, 2 June 2021, 17:16 Last update: about 7 months ago

Former Electrogas director Paul Apap Bologna and Yorgen Fenech had attended a wedding of Turab Musayev, one of the SOCAR representatives, in Baku, Azerbaijan, but couldn't recall if there were other Maltese people present at the wedding.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is currently reviewing the Electrogas deal, which has been marred with serious allegations, and is currently dealing with the inspection of the Auditor General's report entitled 'An Investigation of Matters Relating to the Contracts awarded to Electrogas Malta Ltd. by Enemalta Corporation'.

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Last week, Apap Bologna remained mum when asked about ownership of a company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), identified as Kittiwake Limited, which was allegedly used to funnel money.

At the start of the session, Apap Bologna clarified that Electrogas was incorporated on the 30th of June 2014, and not on the 12th of June 2013 as had been stipulated last week at the PAC. He also said that Malta Power & Gas​​ was bought by Electrogas for the sum of €30 million euros.

The first part of the session focused on the New Project Agreement signed between New Energy and GEM Holdings Limited, where €1 million was paid to Yorgen Fenech.

The witness' lawyer, Giannella De Marco and PN MP Karol Aquilina were, once again, involved in a dispute, accusing each other of bullying. PL MP Ian Castaldi Paris said that the witness should be feeling safe in an environment to give his answers, to which Apap Bologna, after a spat concerning partisan politics between MPs, said that he was feeling "uncomfortable" and intimidated by the atmosphere.

As the session resumed its investigation, Apap Bologna could not understand Fenech Adami's question on how New Energy got paid for services rendered to GEM and Electrogas.

He said that the payment was made to New Energy for the services rendered by Yorgen Fenech, who was involved in the project before this company, which was Fenech's, was created. Apap Bologna said that the agreement was drafted internally, brushing off any notion that he had an idea as to why this happened, even though he had signed it. 

Fenech Adami again asked why the contract was not signed directly with Fenech, to which Apap Bologna said that he cannot understand "what you're trying to get to".

Regarding his roles as a director, Apap Bologna said that he is still director of both GEM Holdings Limited and CP Holdings Limited.

The witness explained that he became a director of Electrogas and EGM after Fenech resigned. Apap Bologna stayed on until two weeks ago, where he resigned from these companies on the 12th of May 2021. Gianella de Marco objected to a number of questions as to why he had resigned and whether he had been forced to do so due to recent revelations, amongst other questions, saying that they are outside the current probe's scope. 

At one point, the witness and his lawyer were removed from the room after PL MP Glenn Bedingfield asked for a discussion on the rules of the PAC when there is an objection to a question being asked and to decide whether it is outside the remit of the PAC. He suggested that a vote should be taken every time a question is objected by an MP. 

PN MP Ryan Callus accused Bedingfield and his PL colleagues of objecting to questions which are "seeking to uncover the truth" on the multi-million Electrogas project. 

After the commotion came to a halt, Apap Bologna and his lawyer, De Marco, were once again invited into the room.

Asked about how much money GEM holdings received from banks, which financed 80% of the consortium, Apap Bologna said that he will have to check, as he would need to consult official documents.

This project made absolutely no profits, Apap Bologna claimed, as it was based according to the "hockey stick model", where a company would make money at the end of the project. However, the witness could not tell the committee when he was planning to make a profit from the Electrogas project. 

In 2017, before the general election, the government had extended a €360 million State loan guarantee for the power plant project. Asked about why this happened, he said that questions should be directed towards the Government, not to him.

Asked about how many times he travelled abroad over the Electrogas deal, he said that he had gone to London "around 20 times". He also said that he had meetings with banks as well, but he "was there for only a few meetings, not for many".

Asked if he went to Castille to discuss the project, he said that he went there when there was a discussion for State Aid to be held, but he doesn't know whether Keith Schembri was there. However, he did state that Yorgen Fenech came with him to this meeting.

Apap Bologna said that he went to the UK with Yorgen Fenech. When questioned by PN MP Karol Aquilina whether he had ever been to Baku, Apap Bologna replied in the affirmative, saying that he did go with Yorgen Fenech as well. On that occasion, he went to a wedding of Turab Musayev, one of the SOCAR representatives.

Aquilina further continued to inquire whether other Maltese nationals were present at the wedding, to which Apap Bologna replied that he was not privy to the guest list, and that the wedding was attended by hundreds, so he "can't remember". 

Finally, when asked whether he still goes yearly to Baku, Apap Bologna refused to answer. "What are these questions? It is as if you go ask Hon. Jason Azzopardi how many times he went to pray in front of the tomb of Christ paid by Yorgen Fenech," de Marco said fumingly.

 

 

 


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