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British Virgin Islands sought information on adviser in €320m Enemalta sale

His company there was to receive €1 million via a Pilatus account

Konrad Mizzi (left) shaking hands with Cheng Chen in March 2014.

Konrad Mizzi (left) shaking hands with Cheng Chen in March 2014.

Anti-money-laundering investigators in the British Virgin Islands sought information on a consultant involved in the €320 million part-sale of Enemalta, the Times of Malta has learnt.

Accenture consultant Cheng Chen took ownership of a BVI company in February 2015 via government consultants Nexia BT.

Anti-money-laundering investigators from the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit found that the company, Torbridge Services, was expecting to receive €1 million in 2015 via a Pilatus Bank account.

Dr Mizzi also insisted that Mr Chen had no relationship with either Enemalta, the government of Malta or the Enemalta-Shanghai Electric deal

Leaked documents obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung show that the FIAU’s counterparts in the British Virgin Islands asked the now-defunct Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca about the activities of Mr Chen’s company.

Mr Chen had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

Former energy minister Konrad Mizzi spearheaded the €320 million deal, signed in March 2014. It saw the State-owned Chinese energy company Shanghai Electric acquire a 33 per cent stake in Enemalta and majority control of the BWSC power plant.

Apart from Mr Chen’s offshore company, Nexia BT also opened secret Panama companies for Dr Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

According to a leaked draft FIAU report, Nexia BT’s Karl Cini advised Pilatus Bank Mr Chen would make an initial deposit of €200,000 to his account. Mr Cini also said that the expected size of the relationship by the end of 2015 would be about €1 million.

The necessary documentation for the account opening was sent to Pilatus Bank’s CEO by hand, the FIAU noted in its report.

FIAU investigators deemed this suspicious, as the bank’s CEO, Hamidreza Ghanbari, would not usually be involved in account-opening procedures.

The FIAU said Dr Mizzi had visited the Ta’ Xbiex building which hosts the offices of both Pilatus Bank and Shanghai Electric in September 2015.

“Suspicion is also raised as to why, at the same time these deals were being entered into, Mr Cheng Chen required a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands having a bank account in Malta, both being countries which have very little nexus to Mr Chen who, as the director of Accenture, lives and works in China,” the FIAU commented in the leaked report.

The government’s anti-money-laundering agency reported that following “adverse media reports” no transfers to the Pilatus account ever took place.

After the Panama Papers leak, Dr Mizzi publicly declared there was no relationship between himself and Mr Chen or their two offshore companies.

Dr Mizzi also insisted that Mr Chen had no relationship with either Enemalta, the government of Malta or the Enemalta-Shanghai Electric deal.

“Accenture acted as consultants for Shanghai Electric Power and were part of a large team working on behalf of Shanghai Electric Power,” he said.

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