17 Black received two separate payments. Graphic: Design Studio

17 Black received two separate payments. Graphic: Design Studio

Bakı/23.06.20/Turan: A new corruption scandal is gaining momentum in Malta, related to the entry of the state-owned company Enemalta into the project to create a wind farm in Mozura, Montenegro with the laundering of part of the funds with the assistance of at least two Azerbaijani businessmen.

The power plant Malta Montenegro Wind Power with a total capacity of 46 MW (23 turbines) was officially opened in November 2019 with the participation of the Minister of Energy of Montenegro Dragika Sekulic and the Maltese Minister of Energy and Water Supply Joe Mizzi, who literally lost his post after a couple of months due to the investigation in Malta into facts of money laundering during the implementation by Enemalta of the project Electro Gas Malta with the participation of SOCAR (33%), Siemens (33%) and two Maltese companies.

It is noteworthy that initially the Spanish windmill project in Montenegro was to be implemented by the Spanish company Fersa Renovables (won the tender), which decided to join forces with another Spanish partner - Audax Renovables. However, in 2014, these Spanish companies announced their intention to withdraw from the project, which ceased to play strategic importance for them, and announced their negotiations with interested parties.

The 2015 Fersa official reporting documents studied by Turan indicate that Fersa Energías Renovables agreed to sell its subsidiary in the Montenegrin energy project for 2.9 million euros to Cifidex Ltd (a subsidiary of Vestigo Capital, a Seychelles registered company).

Further, Cifidex sold these shares to the Maltese Enemalta for 10.3 million euros.

As a result, the wind farm in Mozura was built by a consortium of the Maltese Enemalta and the Chinese Shanghai Electricity Company, and should be operated by them for 20 years, after which it will become the property of Montenegro. The Montenegrin government has committed to guarantee a fixed price of electricity of € 95.99 / MWh and € 115 million in incentives for the first 12 years of operation. The wind farm should produce 112 GWh of electricity per year.

This RES-based station is the second most powerful in Montenegro. The project idea is wonderful, but in its implementation a money laundering scheme from the Maltese side has been identified.

Based on a joint investigation by the British Reuters agency and the Times of Malta published on June 19, 2020, it was found that Cifidex in November 2015 borrowed 2.9 million euros necessary for the transaction from 17 Black (during that period until December 2019 it was led by Jorgen Fenech, who has been under investigation since December in involvement in the murder of a journalist in Malta and money laundering, and is awaiting trial in prison).

After Cifidex sold the shares to Enemalta, they paid off the borrowed debt to 17 Black and added another 4.6-4.8 million euros “profit share” (presumably due to Enemalta) within six months, several sources told Reuters.

The role of Azerbaijani businessmen. Reuters, citing a competent source, writes that Cifidex belongs to Turab Musaev, who in SOCAR Trading was responsible for LNG issues and business development, was one of the leaders of Electro Gas Malta and was a business partner of Fenech, owner of 17 Black. Turab Musaev has a British passport.

The British law firm Atkins Thomson representing Musaev’s interests said Musayev had no reason to avoid any dealings with Fenech.

“Our client Turab Musaev did not know anything, did not suspect anything, and had no reason to believe that Mr. Fenech was involved in crimes (in Malta) and had no relationship with Fenech, except for the deal on the Mozura wind farm,” the law firm’s statement said.

Reuters turned to Fenech with a request to clarify his participation in the project in Montenegro, but Fenech refused.

At the request of this British agency to SOCAR Trading, this subsidiary of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan replied that “it has nothing to do with the financing scheme of the Mozura project in Montenegro, and does not know anything about 17 Black.

“Musaev was hired by us as a consultant, and this, in turn, allowed him to conduct business outside of his official duties at SOCAR Trading.”

SOCAR confirmed that Musaev was the director of the consortium Electro Gas Malta, in which Jorgen Fenech also worked.

Reuters sent inquiries to both Mizzi and the former Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, and they replied that they did not know about the relationship of the energy project in Montenegro with 17 Black and Fenech.

As for Vestigo Capital, which the Spanish sources of information called the "parent company" for Cifidex, Turan was able to find out that it was founded in 2014 by an Azerbaijani businessman 39-year-old Natig R. Ganiev (also has a British passport).

At the same time, in 2016, Ganiev even managed to visit the director of the Malta Montenegro Wind Power consortium. Then he left the project and Vestigo Capital, and since 2017 he is a member of the board of directors of Accentro Real Estate AG (real estate in Germany) with a share of 83.3% (estimated value of $ 312.6 million).

Ganiev also had experience at Brookline Capital GP Ltd, was an analyst at Prudential Securities. Ganiev holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

However, this Azerbaijani businessman began to be watched by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung as part of the Paradise Papers global journalistic investigation into numerous offshore companies whose activities are in doubt.

Montfort Communications Ltd., which represents the interests of Vestigo, told Turan, citing a spokeswoman for Vestigo: “The claim that Vestigo Capital is in any way affiliated with Cifidex Ltd is completely untrue. On February 20, 2015, Fersa Renovables issued a statement stating that Cifidex Ltd is not a subsidiary of Vestigo Capital. It is also incorrect to associate Mr. Ganiev with Paradise Papers. This erroneous statement proceeds only from the fact that Vestigo is a minority partner in the Mozur wind energy project, and no more.”

Note that on June 22 in front of the Parliament of Malta there will be a rally of journalists - the first major anti-corruption protest during the COVID-19 pandemic in Malta.

The media demand a joint investigation involving Europol and the Maltese police in connection with the activities of Enemalta.

Note that in the fall of 2017, while studying the activities of Enemalta, the journalist Daphne Caruana Galicia was killed, and now Jorgen Fenech is called the “customer” of this crime.

“We know that 17 Black, registered by Fenech in Dubai, was the target customer for Panamanian accounts of the head of the administration of former Prime Minister Keith Chambry and former Minister of Energy Conrad Mizzi. It is proved that 17 Black received at least three payments during the implementation of the Electro Gas Malta project - 161 thousand euros for the first liquefied gas tanker delivered by SOCAR to Malta in 2017, and two separate payments in 2015 in the amount of 1.1 million euros from Rufat Baratzadeh through the Latvian bank ABLV. We are currently demanding an investigation also into the energy project in Montenegro, which also revealed the first signs of a corrupt money laundering scheme by the former government of Malta," the media said in Malta.

The current Prime Minister of Malta, Robert Abela, said over the weekend that "if what was published by Reuters and the Times of Malta is true, then he is" shocked. "

"The Maltese police must investigate all those involved," said Abela.

According to him, he "will not hesitate to remove Conrad Mizzi from the post of one of the leaders of the Labor Party of the parliament, if he turns out to be involved in dubious deals."

Note that a number of Maltese parties are ready to join the protests of journalists in Malta, believing that the time has come to eradicate the corruption network created by Joseph Muscat and stop preying on ordinary people.

Appearing the names of three Azerbaijani businessmen in investigations of Maltese energy projects undoubtedly negatively affects the international image of Azerbaijan.--0--


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