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News | Wednesday, 10 March 2010 Issue. 154

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Power station investigation

Auditor asked to look into €210 million Enemalta loan

MP hands over new documentation detailing apparent connections between Enemalta’s financial partner Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and successful bidder BWSC

Auditor General Anthony C. Mifsud is probing new information about the contract awarded to BWSC for the extension of the Delimara power station, this paper can reveal.
Answering MaltaToday questions, on whether the Office of the Auditor General has a date when the conclusive report is to be laid in Parliament, the Office said, “As you can imagine this investigation is really complicated. Just yesterday (Monday) this Office received new information from a member of Parliament.”
Tight lipped about these new claims, the Auditor General did not elaborate on the nature of this new information, nor the identity of the member of parliament who handed in this information.
MaltaToday can however reveal that on Monday, Labour MP Evarist Bartolo was in contact with the Auditor General.
Documents seen by this newspaper appear to raise numerous questions about the obligations of Enemalta towards businesses owned by Mitsui: the giant Japanese conglomerate that, amongst other companies, also owns the Scandinavian energy firm at the centre of the corruption allegations: BWSC.

Links between Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Enemalta and BWSC

In particular, the Auditor General has been asked to investigate the signing of a €210 million, 10-year loan facility by Enemalta Corporation on 30 June 2005.
The loan was signed with Banco Efisa of Portugal and DEPFA BANK of Ireland, together with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. of Japan.
After the signing of agreement, Mike Hobbs, deputy general manager of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp in London, had said: “The Corporation’s management, under the leadership of ex-Chairman Mr Tancred Tabone, has taken advantage of an excellent opportunity and Sumito Mitsui Banking Corporation is delighted to be a part of the transaction. We are very proud of our 12-year association with the Corporation.”
The Auditor General is understood to have been asked to delve deeper into an alleged connection between the Mitsui-owned bank and BWSC.
The documents submitted to the Auditor general appear to imply that BWSC, the company later awarded the €200 million Delimara extension contract, is affiliated with Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Company Ltd: also associated with the Mitsui Group.
With new leads pouring in, the Auditor General insists that his office is working round the clock to conclude the report.
“I can reassure you that the team working on the case is committed to concluding this report in the shortest time possible, according to the terms that we were given by the Public Accounts Committee,” he said. “According to these terms, when the report is concluded I will present it immediately to the Speaker of the House, to be lain on the table.”

€39 million paid to BWSC
On Sunday, sister paper Illum exclusively quoted Finance Minister Tonio Fenech confirming that Government had already handed €39 million to BWSC, despite the fact that the Auditor General is still probing the award of the contract.
Fenech argued: “The Auditor General never ordered a suspension of the process pending his investigations.”
Auditor General Mifsud told this newspaper that he was unable to comment on these statements, because “the report is yet not concluded.
“My office believes that everyone needs to shoulder responsibility for his action,” he said.
Asked about the €39 million already paid before he had concluded this same investigation, Mifsud replied: “Ethics and impartiality of my office do not permit me to comment on such cases, that after all are regulated by the country’s financial regulations.”



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