Yorgen Fenech (born 23 November 1981) is a Maltese businessman whose main interests are casinos and hotels in Malta.[3] He was head of the Tumas Group and director of the Maltese-Azerbaijan-German company Electrogas.

Yorgen Fenech
Born (1981-11-23) 23 November 1981 (age 38)[1]
NationalityMaltese
OccupationBusinessman

Suspected of bribing members of the Maltese government, in November 2019 Fenech was arrested as a suspect in the murder of the investigative-journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.[4] He is a key figure in the 2019 Malta political crisis and 2019 protests in Malta.

BusinessEdit

Fenech is a prominent Maltese businessman. He was identified in 2018 as being the owner of the Dubai-registered company 17 Black. The company was listed in the Panama Papers and investigative journalist Caruana Galizia had written about 17 Black eight months before her death, alleging the company had links to Joseph Muscat's chief of staff Keith Schembri and to former energy minister Konrad Mizzi.[5] Later, the research group The Daphne Project came across e-mails between 17 Black and two shell companies in Panama, belonging to Mizzi or Schembri. The emails mentioned payments of up to $2 million for unspecified services. Mizzi was then Minister of Energy in Malta, Schembri Chief of Staff of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Fenech was CEO of the Tumas Group and a director of energy company Electrogas; in 2019 he resigned from both positions.[6] On 25 November 2019 Tumas Group said that allegations linking Fenech to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia were "alien to the Tumas Group's values".[7]

Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigationEdit

On 16 October 2017, investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia died in a car bomb attack close to her home,[8] attracting widespread local and international reactions.[9] In December 2017, three men were arrested in connection with the car bomb attack.[10]

In November 2019, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced a deal with Melvin Theuma, a suspected middleman in the murder. Theuma was thought to be able to provide comprehensive information about the murder case and other crimes, and received a presidential pardon in exchange for information relating to the mastermind of the murder. [11]

A day after Theuma's arrest, Fenech attempted to leave Malta on his private yacht, with the Armed Forces of Malta intercepting and arresting him as a "person of interest" in the Caruana Galizia murder enquiry.[12] Fenech went on to offer himself as a witness. He promised information about the murder case and other offenses, in exchange for immunity. The request was not granted.[13] On 30 November 2019, an indictment was filed against Fenech, and he was accused of complicity in the murder of Caruana Galizia. Fenech pleaded not guilty.[14]

Six days after the arrest of Fenech, Keith Schembri resigned his government post as Chief of Staff, and was subsequently questioned by the police.[15][16] Schembri was later released on police bail. [17]

The doctor Adrian Vella was also arrested for questioning. Vella's name also occurred in a number of companies registered or managed via Panama.[18] He is said to have served as a secret messenger between Schembri and Fenech.[19]

Fenech, in his court statement, accused Schembri of being the mastermind behind the Caruana Galizia murder.[20] Schembri is also accused of having tried to influence Fenech in order to frame Christian Cardona as responsible for the murder of Caruana Galizia.[21] The case is still ongoing.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Debono, Sylvana (22 November 2019). "A birthday to remember". Newsbook.
  2. ^ "Surreal scene: Yorgen Fenech goes for a walk, chats with reporters in Valletta". Archived from the original on 30 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Wem gehört 17 Black" (in German). Die Zeit. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Daphne Caruana Galizia: Malta businessman charged with complicity in murder". BBC.com. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  5. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50574968
  6. ^ "Anklage gegen möglichen Mittäter im Mordfall Galizia". Die Zeit. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Tumas Group disassociates itself from Yorgen Fenech". MaltaToday.com.mt.
  8. ^ "Daphne Caruana Galizia killed as vehicle blows up in Bidnija". The Malta Independent. 16 October 2017. Archived from the original on 16 October 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Death of 'journalist who exposed major corruption' echoes in all corners of the globe". The Malta Independent. 18 October 2017. Archived from the original on 22 October 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  10. ^ Jon Stone (6 December 2017). "Daphne Caruana Galizia murder: Three charged over killing of Maltese journalist who exposed Panama Papers corruption". The Independent. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Malta grants pardon to suspected middleman in journalist murder - police sources". Reuters. 25 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Daphne murder: 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech arrested on yacht". Times of Malta.
  13. ^ "No pardon for Yorgen Fenech". Times of Malta.
  14. ^ "Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech pleads not guilty to Caruana Galizia assassination". MaltaToday.com.mt.
  15. ^ "Malta Caruana murder: Resignations spark government crisis". BBC. 26 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Keith Schembri under arrest, along with Yorgen Fenech's doctor". The Times of Malta. 27 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Keith Schembri released, police see no need for him to remain under arrest - The Malta Independent". www.independent.com.mt.
  18. ^ "ADRIAN VELLA | ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database". offshoreleaks.icij.org.
  19. ^ "BREAKING: Lawyer Of Keith Schembri's Messenger/Doctor Adrian Vella Renounces Him As Client". Lovin Malta. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  20. ^ Garside, Juliette (28 November 2019). "Maltese PM's aide accused of being mastermind of Caruana Galizia killing" – via www.theguardian.com.
  21. ^ Cilia, Johnathan (30 November 2019). "Chris Cardona Requests Protection After Plot To 'Frame' Him In Assassination Case Is Claimed". Lovin Malta.