Joseph Muscat is factually incorrect

01 September 2023

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s claim this week that the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination was “factually incorrect” about the Electrogas project is itself factually incorrect. It is worth recalling that it was Joseph Muscat who, as prime minister, appointed the board of the public inquiry and approved its terms of reference, and that the board drew up its report after hearing the testimony of multiple witnesses, including Joseph Muscat himself. The following are verbatim extracts from the report of the public inquiry. All page numbers refer to the courtesy translation of the official public inquiry report (emphasis added).


“The Electrogas project is one of these projects regarding which the Auditor General expressed great reservations regarding the regularity of the procedures in the execution of the project and the observance of the applicable laws.”


“The Board was left astonished hearing for example how Mr Paul Apap Bologna, former Director of Electrogas and a principal businessman in the medical product sector so much so that he has an interest in the new industry for the production of medicinal cannabis, found himself to be a member of the Planning Authority for some time. He admits that he had no experience in planning and has no idea how he ended up there.”

p. 218-219

“It would be greatly erroneous if one were to consider that Electrogas was the only tainted project in this system intended to create a synergy between the public administration and the business world and because it was abused, it ended up undermining every rule of good governance which assures transparency and accountability. A system which ended up giving rise to serious abuses not only from leading businessmen whom one understands that they would take advantage of it, but also and even more seriously from public administrators whose duty was to restrain these abuses.

Electrogas was perhaps a classic example of this contamination because it involved a major government project which it was committed to complete in the shortest time possible after the election.”

p. 220-221

“It was from the evidence which emerged from the Panama Papers and eventually with the disclosure of the existence of the company 17 Black that Caruana Galizia ascertained beyond any doubt that she was going against an essentially corrupt system that involved the exercise of the greatest two powers in the country, the political one and the economic one. With the disclosure of these facts which rocked the country, she gave clear notice to whoever was seriously involved in this system, that with her revelations, Mrs Caruana Galizia was endangering not only the individual projects regardless of their size and exposing them to the risk of serious, maybe fatal, consequences which would lead to bankruptcy, the way the Electrogas project was progressing, but even worse than that was that she was endangering the same secure system from which the persons involved were making great gains and were planning for more in the future.”

p. 268-269

The Electrogas Project Meanwhile, Mrs Caruana Galizia began receiving a great deal of leaked emails from the company Electrogas and she was certain that there was corruption in the process of the granting of contracts. She knew of the existence of 17 Black. She knew that Electrogas was on the verge of bankruptcy and in September 2017 she knew that Electrogas was on the verge of bankruptcy and in September 2017 she wrote about this and soon after the Government got involved to provide a surety whereby the company acquired financial closure in November 2017 that is, one month after her assassination. It is probable that if the owner of the company 17 Black had been revealed with certainty and publicly prior to the assassination, the Government would have found itself in an uncomfortable position to provide a surety and the future of the company would have been cast in doubt. This would be without ignoring the fact that the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff knew very well who the UBO of 17 Black was well before Daphne Caruana Galizia revealed the news. This transpires from his own testimony. It is not this Board’s task to discuss the assassination’s motives since, as stated, this falls within the competence of the Police. Daphne was not killed because of gossip but because of something far more serious.

p. 307

“Dr Peter Grech was also asked regarding the counsel of the current Attorney General, Dr Victoria Buttigieg who at the time was his Deputy in regard to the Electrogas project. He testified that they were acting as Lawyers for the Ministry of Finance besides overseeing the Government contract. This attitude from the Attorney General’s office, to be more than cautious in such sensitive matters which affect the involvement of high-ranking public officials even when it concerns large projects with private interests, is reflected in the counsel given by Dr Victoria Buttigieg, Deputy Attorney General in regard to the Electrogas project. It appears that Dr Buttigieg was involved in a discussion with the Electrogas lawyers regarding the Security of Supply Agreement which had to guarantee a large loan for Electrogas. As a result of these exchanges, Dr Buttigieg provided counsel in the sense that it would not be necessary for the Cabinet or the Maltese Parliament to approve the Electrogas projects if there is the signature of the Minister responsible. The Attorney General’s counsel to find a solution to the problem, whatever it may be, in a way to bypass Parliament and Cabinet, is out of place and does not generate confidence in that office which first and foremost acts in the interest of the State and not the Government of the day.”