The public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia continues.
Paul Apap Bologna, director of Electrogas, faced the inquiry board today.
That is it for today. Thank you for following this live blog.
The next sitting will be held on Monday at 2 pm. Paul Apap Bologna will again testify and Mark Gasan as well.
Today's sitting will continue behind closed doors.
The press is asked to leave the courtroom for a few minutes.
Apap Bologna steps down from the witness stand.
Madame Justice said that Mr Paul Apap Bologna will again be asked to testify as he needs to verify certain things he was not sure of today and which he said he needs to double-check.
Apap Bologna said that he was aware.
Paul Apap Bologna said that no he did not. But Dr Azzopardi asks if he is aware that this week the director of siemens arrived in Malta.
"Have you met the director of siemens this week?" – Dr Azzopardi
"No I did not" – Apap Bologna
"Are you sure?" – Dr Azzopardi
"Yes, I am sure" – Apap Bologna
"Is it true that you donated €1 million to the Labour Party?" – Dr Azopardi
"No Yorgen Fenech never mentioned who the owner is" – Apap Bologna
"Has he ever mentioned to you who the owner of Macbridge is?"
"I cannot warn you enough to be careful in your replies" – Madame Justice Lofaro.
"No he did not" – Apap Bologna
"Did Edward Zammit Lewis set up meetings between yourself and Joseph Muscat?" – Dr Azzopardi
Paul Apap Bologna smiles and says "I do not know"
"How come before Konrad Mizzi came up with the exact amount of the cost of the project in January 2013? And do not tell me to ask Konrad Mizzi" – Dr Azzopardi
The witness states that he would have to check about that.
Pre Jan 2013 – You did not communicate with PL
In April 2013 – The expression of interest published
"How is it possible that you managed to get all in check in such a tight span of time?" – Dr Azzopardi
Dr Azzopardi quotes an article from Daphne's blog – about the insurance of the project which would take around a year to be completed
"It is a company that focuses on infrastructural projects" replied Apap Bologna evasively.
"How come a lead partner is found to have financial difficulties?" – asked Dr Azzopardi referring to Gasol
He notes how in Early 2014 there were already concerns about the financing for this project.
Dr Azzopardi is reading about the financing agreement.
"We became aware of the financial situation of Gasol around early 2014 but would have to check about that," – Apap Bologna
"I do not remember" – Apap Bologna
"Did Electrogas ever discuss that the only option considered was going to be offshore?" – Dr Azzopardi
"No" – Apap Bologna
"The call for expressions of interest by Enemalta was just a month after the general election of 2013, were you at any time privy to discussions with Enemalta?" – Dr Azzopardi
payment based on capacity made available , amongst other tems.
"You confirmed in the presentation, that for Malta to enter into a purchasing power agreement; the govt needed to guarantee Enemalta's standards meet international standards
"I was not present and was not aware of such meetings" – Apap Bologna
Statement by Joe Gasan: "It has been reported that whilst questioning a witness during today’s public inquiry, Dr Jason Azzopardi asserted that it is a known fact that Joe Gasan was organizing private meetings with (the then Opposition Leader) Dr Joseph Muscat and other business leaders at Portomaso, prior to the 2013 election. Mr Gasan declares unequivocally that this is absolutely false and never happened. No such meetings were ever planned or held by Joe Gasan at any time. This assertion is a complete fabrication."
"Before January 2013 it is a known fact that there were meetings at level 22 between Muscat, Gasan and Fenech" – Dr Azzopardi
"I have been reminding him all along" – Madame Justice Lofaro
Dr Azzopardi reminds the witness to be careful in his replies as in the coming days, data from Yorgen Fenech's phone might come out.
Madame Justice notes that he had offered to take his place.
Dr Azzopardi asked who decided to make him the director after Yorgen Fenech resigned.
Lawyer Jason Azzopardi is now asking questions.
Madame Justice Lofaro reminds the witness he is under oath.
Paul Apap Bologna retakes the witness stand.
The inquiry board is back inside the courtroom.
The inquiry board notified that Mark Gasan will not testify today but on Monday.
Lawyer Jason Azzopardi has requested a recess of 5 minutes.
Madame Justice Lofaro sarcastically said: "Of course you knew this from the media"
He continued saying that he was aware of this through the media.
"I was not aware that Fenech was to venture into a similar project in Bangladesh" – Apap Bologna
"In 2023" – replied Apap Bologna
"When were you going to make a profit from this project according to the financial model when Yorgen Fenech was still a director?" – Dr Comodini Cachia
"Mr Gasan did not inform us about the released statement" – confirmed Apap Bologna
The witness is looking quite nervous.
Lawyer Jason Azzopardi said "this is nonsense"
The inquiry board is perplexed with his reply.
"No, I was not aware as the financial situation was handled by another company" – Apap Bologna
"When did you know the company was in default?" – Comodini Cachia
"I was not" – Apap Bologna
"So you were made aware just now with my question?" – Dr Comodini Cachia
"Yes" – Apap Bologna
"Were you aware that your company was in default?"
"At the time I was not the director so I am not privy of that information" – Apap Bologna
"When did you acquire the state guarantee for this project?" – Dr Comodini Cachia
"I will need to double-check" – replied Apap Bologna
Dr Comodini Cachia asked of there are e-mails about this which he was copied in and Mr Gasan was not.
Dr Comodini Cachia is now asking questions on how Former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi negotiated an agreement for Enemalta to absorb €5 million in excise tax owed by Electrogas.
Read more: https://newsbook.com.mt/en/had-my-mother-published-electrogas-would-have-gone-into-liquidation-matthew-caruana-galizia/
In August, the son of the slain journalist outlined the scenarios which would have taken place had they published the stories and revealed that the Dubai based company 17 Black was owned by the director of Electrogas and, furthermore, that it had promised a bribe to the Energy Minister.
Daphne and Matthew Caruana Galizia were both working on the Electrogas leak.
"Yes, of course, I have been and still am very concerned" – Apap Bologna
"Clearly you are not concerned about all this" – Madame Justice Lofaro
"That is an unfair accusation towards the company" – Apap Bologna
"Probably if Daphne hadn't been killed she would have published the information she had received on Electrogas and the government-chosen consortium would have gone into liquidation," said the inquiry board
The board now asks why was Electrogas was not making any profit.
"We Discussed this on board level, and it was decided that Nexia BT was doing a good job so we kept them." – Apap Bologna
"Why didn't you at least change the audit firm of GEM Holdings? Even after the allegations on Nexia BT nad Pilatus Bank emerged," – Dr Comodini Cachia
Apap Bologna was evasive in his reply and said that as he already mentioned he was looking into it.
"All the allegations were made when the project was up and running" – Apap Bologna
"But Gasan took a different approach to the situation, why didn't you?" asked Madame Justice Lofaro.
"You read so many things in the newspapers, what did you do?" – Dr Comodini Cachia
Paul Apap Bologna said he met him a few times.
"Nexia BT was the audit company for GEM holdings" – noted Dr Therese Comodini Cachia.
"How long have you known Brian Tonna from Nexia BT?" – Dr Comodini Cachia
Lawyer Charles Mercieca, from Yorgen Fenech's defence team, has just entered the courtroom.
"As directors, we had the obligation to do it" – Apap Bologna
He continued saying that pwc had advised that they conduct an audit from a financial and a forensic point of view.
"We had spent a lot of money on an investigation on Electrogas. We did a full report from day 1 of the project and no wrongdoing was found." – Apap Bologna
"Did you communicate with Socar abut Musayev? You had two directors involved in the allegations" – Dr Comodini Cachia
I never spoke to Turab Musayev after his resignation, said the witness.
"I would have to double-check about that" – Apap Bologna
"Where you aware what was happening in Malta in December 2019? Was there correspondence of Fenech's resignation?"- Dr Comodini Cachia
"Yes of course it was a concern" – Apap Bologna
"Did you not care to find out if 17 Black was being financed by taxpayer's money?" asks the inquiry board
"It was a media accusation" – Apap Bologna.
"Weren't you worried about your business reputation after it was you who appointed him as a director?" – Dr Comodini Cachia.
"That would raise even more concern" noted Madame Justice Lofaro.
Apap Bologna said that he knew when it was reported in the media.
"The board had asked him but Yorgen did not give us an answer if it was his," said Apap Bologna.
The board asks if he was aware if Fenech was the owner of 17 Black.
"Didn't you ask him why? He took your project as according to you he was more experienced, but when he resigned you actually did not ask him why?" – Dr Therese Comodini Cachia.
The witness became the Director of the consortium in November 2019.
The board reminds the witness that he is under oath.
"Have you ever read Daphne's blog?" asked Madame Justice Lofaro
"Occasionally, yes," he replied.
"Do you expect us to believe that with your involvement in the project and all that was Daphne publishing on the Electrogas project you read her blog occasionally?" – noted Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino.
"How is it possible that you were aware of the leaked e-mails in December 2017 when Daphne was killed in October that same year and she had already mentioned in her articles that e-mails from Electrogas were leaked," said the board.
When the Panama Papers were revealed checks were made to confirm if any transactions were effected said the witness. He also said that no such transactions were found.
He also mentioned that they found out about the e-mail leaks from Electrogas serves on the 27th of December 2017. Till this day they are not aware who was behind the leaks.
"Panama Papers were also a concern to us" – Apap Bologna
He said that they had a board meeting when the allegations on 17 Balck came out.
"Was there an internal audit when connections of 17 Black to Electrogas were being made?" asked Dr Comodini Cachia
"No I did not know. I became aware after we were awarded the contract" – Apap Bologna.
"Did you know he had contacts or any relations with Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi?" asked Madame Justice Lofaro
"Mr Fenech when it comes to big project managements has more experience than myself," – Paul Apap Bologna
"So back in 2007 and 2008 when Yorgen Fenech was not involved, you had the expertise?" asked Madame Justice Lofaro.
"Why was Yorgen Fenech the leader of the project?" – asked Dr Comodini Cachia
"Back in 2007 and 2008, it was only myself and the Gasan family interested in the project. I hardly knew Yorgen Fenech at that time and I am related to the Gasans," said the witness.
He confirms that it is the same presentation presented by the team.
Dr Comodini Cachia has handed a presentation to the witness.
"I never discussed it with the Labour Party" – replied the witness.
"Do you exclude mentioning the project to Joseph Muscat when you met him a couple of times socially?" – asks Dr Comodini Cachia
Lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia is now asking questions.
"I totally disagree with that," said the witness.
"Maybe they did it behind your back" noted Madame Justice Lofaro.
The board asks if the expression of interest was tailor-made for Elecrogas.
"We presented the proposal in the same time frame that was available of the 18 other bidders," said Apap Bologna.
"You presented the proposal in a time frame of six weeks right?" asked Madame Justice Lofaro.
"They were traders in oil," said the witness.
"Were you happy with the involvement of Azerbaijan in this project?" asked Madame Justice Lofaro.
"We contacted the pwc, there were serious companies involved in this" he said.
We met with Siemens here in Malta which came through Gasol as was Socar, explained the witness who also confirmed that the discussions were concluded in six weeks.
We spoke to EDF as a cousin of mine works there, said Paul Apap Bologna.
The witness can be seen as being quite nervous while answering questions.
"No I did know about his connections", insisted the witness.
"That was a bit naive of you" noted Madame Justice Lofaro.
"What is for sure is that the lead person of the project was Yorgen Fenech," said Paul Apap Bologna.
"How is it possible? It was in your interest to meet the future prime minister" said Madame Justice Lofaro.
"An election had to happen before he was chosen as Malta's PM" said Apap Bologna.
He said he never met Joseph Muscat.
The witness also said that it was Yorgen's father who contacted Joe Gasan as they were in constant contact due to joint business ventures.
He then spoke to Yorgen's father. Then they contacted Joe Gasan to see if they are still interested in the project.
He continued saying that he met with Fenech about this project in mid-January 2013.
Madame Justice Lofaro warns the witness to be careful when answering the questions.
He confirmed that he met Konrad Mizzi for the first time after the contract was awarded.
All the other international companies were not part of the team anymore. The only company present was Gasol, said Apap Bologna.
"That is very hard to believe – How did such a project happen so fast after the Labour party was elected?" asked the board.
He replied: "Not that I know of"
The board asks if he had met with Konrad Mizzi before the election to discuss the project.
The expression of interest was presented after 2013 election
He continued saying that that the presentation presented to the labour government had different concepts from the proposal presented to the PN government.
The witness said that from their end as a team the same presentation with the exact same details was presented to former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, to the Environment Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and even to ERA, said Apap Bologna.
Apap Bologna continued saying that it was George Fenech who spoke to Gasan about the project.
"I had spoken about this project to Yorgen Fenech. I know Fenechs. I bought my first house from the Fenechs. They are in big projects so it made perfect sense to me to speak to him."
He also said that he did not speak about this project to the opposition – that is the Labour Party – at any stage.
Apap Bologna also said that it was John Dalli who introduced him to the then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.
He said that at that stage he did not speak to the Opposition.
"It was a great project for Malta, it would lead to lower emissions, it would have an effect on electricity tariffs etc but the Minister responsible for the Environment Sector back then did not attend the meeting," said Apap Bologna.
A cost-effective project on how to generate energy in Malta was presented to the government back in 2007 and 2008. The then Prime Minister said that it was a great idea and that LNG is the way forward for the energy sector, said Apap Bologna
The witness said that his interests in the energy sector date back to 2007.
He mentioned how he had a friend he knew in the UK who worked in the energy sector.
Apap Bologna said that his business interests diversified along the years.
He said he lived most of his life in the UK and most o his friends are outside Maltese shores.
He said that he was educated abroad.
The board asks Apap Bologna to give a brief summary of his business interests along the years.
Paul Apap Bologna takes the witness stand.
The board of inquiry is chaired by Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia and composed of Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino and Madame Justice Abigail Lofaro.
The inquiry board has just entered the courtroom.
Paul Apap Bologna and Mark Gasan, from the Electrogas Consortium, are expected to face the inquiry board today.
Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Commodini Cachia who represents the Caruana Galizia family are already here.
We are live from courtroom 20.
Good morning and welcome to this live blog.