A Chinese negotiator involved in multi-million euro deals by Enemalta is behind a secret company which, along with Yorgen Fenech’s 17 Black, is suspected of being set up to pay kickbacks to Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, the Times of Malta have reported.
In a story on Monday, the newspaper revealed that Macbridge International Development is a company which is owned by Tang Zhaomin, the mother-in-law of negotiator Chen Cheng.
Macbridge was named as one of the two companies set up to pay the equivalent of some €5,000 per day into secret offshore Panama companies which were owned by the OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri and then Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi.
The second company was called 17 Black, which was based in Dubai and owned by businessman and Electrogas shareholder – and the man currently accused of masterminding the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia – Yorgen Fenech.
Cheng Chen was a consultant with a firm called Accenture, and he played a key role in a €320 million deal which saw Chinese state-owned company Shanghai Electric Power buy a third of Enemalta in 2014.
The same article states that Times of Malta, Reuters, OCCRP and Süddeutsche Zeitung were able to uncover the existence of another company called Dow’s Media, which was set up with Macbridge and which received €1 million from Fenech’s 17 Black only months after a controversial wind-farm deal in Montenegro went through.
The director for Dow’s Media is listed as Wang Rui – a cousin of Chen Cheng’s mother-in-law – and she told Reuters in China that she had been asked to front the company by Chen himself.
Both Macbridge and Dow’s Media were dissolved in January 2019 – two months after Yorgen Fenech was revealed as the owner of 17 Black. The two companies were controlled through shell companies registered in the Seychelles and the Marshall Islands respectively.
The report reads that Fenech had told investigators in his failed attempt to get a presidential pardon that Macbridge stood for Malta – China bridge.
Daphne Caruana Galizia had been following the story up from as far back as 2016, but she was killed in a car bomb before she could reach the story’s conclusion.
On their part, Nexia BT’s Karl Cini – who named Macbridge in an email in 2015 and who is currently in custody on separate money laundering proceedings – said through his lawyer that he would not be commenting about the story.
Konrad Mizzi – who has since been booted out of the Labour Party, although he remains an MP – told Times of Malta that he had no information about or relationship with Macbridge. Keith Schembri – also in custody related to the same money laundering proceedings as Cini – did not respond to a request for comment. He has admitted having “draft business plans” with 17 Black, but insisted that he has no knowledge of Macbridge.