Trafigura and Total are barred from fuel tenders
Enemalta’s oil purchasing board has barred international commodities giants Trafigura and Total from bidding for fuel tenders, in view of their alleged connection to a series of oil deals under investigation.
“Under the current circumstances of ongoing investigations, Enemalta’s Fuel Procurement Committee has decided to exclude Trafigura and TOTSA (Total’s oil trading arm) from fuel tenders,” a spokeswoman for the corporation told The Times.
The committee also decided to cancel the most recent fuel procurement tenders issued even though some offers had already been received.
“The process precludes the corporation’s Procurement Committee from knowing who made an offer. No offers were opened and all invited suppliers were informed accordingly,” the spokeswoman said.
The news comes as the police are today expected to arraign another two prominent businessmen in connection with the scandal, after on Tuesday, they charged former Enemalta chairman Tancred Tabone, 60, and his one-time adviser, 62-year-old Frank Sammut, over money laundering and bribery.
They were both granted bail against a deposit of €3,000 and a personal guarantee of €15,000 but the Attorney General yesterday appealed and asked for bail to be revoked.
While people are facing charges in Malta, the international oil companies allegedly implicated in the scandal have escaped most of the limelight on this case.
However, on Tuesday, The Times reported that in a 2010 meeting top executives from Total told their then Maltese agents they were not interested in doing business with them unless they had on their team George Farrugia, the rogue oil trader now at the heart of the scandal.
A delegation of the Farrugia brothers, owners of the John’s Group (which at the time had an exclusivity agreement with Total), travelled to Geneva towards the end of 2010 to explain to the French oil company that they had sacked their own brother George after they caught him siphoning off money from their oil trading Powerplan Ltd.
George Farrugia, who has now been granted a presidential pardon to give evidence on the other suspects in court, managed Powerplan for the family before 2010.
However, his brothers caught him and his wife Cathy diverting the agent’s fees owed to Powerplan into his own personal company, Aikon Ltd.
Total has so far failed to answer any questions in connection with the matter while Dutch oil company Trafigura initially issued a brief statement before sticking to a “no comment” position.
Last month Malta Today had published invoices and e-mails purporting to show that Mr Sammut, who at the time was an adviser to then Enemalta chairman Tancred Tabone, took kickbacks on oil consignments by Trafigura.
Since then, however, the investigation, led by Assistant Commissioner Michael Cassar, together with Superintendent Paul Vassallo and inspector Angelo Gafá, has grown to include a network of subsidiary companies belonging to Mr Tabone, Tony Cassar and Francis Portelli.