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MaltaToday 25 January 2023 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 25 JANUARY 2023 2 KARL AZZOPARDI FORMER minister Konrad Miz- zi has insisted he was not part of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's 'kitchen cabinet'. "I have no knowledge of this kitchen cabinet, and I can tell you I was not part of anything of the sort," Mizzi testified during the Public Accounts Committee. In 2020, former finance minis- ter Edward Scicluna had spoken of a "kitchen cabinet" of advisors to Muscat, who made decisions and gave the go-ahead on certain controversial projects during his testimony in the public inquiry on Daphne Caruana Galizia. During a later PAC testimony, Scicluna had played down his comments, such 'kitchen cabi- nets' exist in every government. Konrad Mizzi was being ques- tioned by PAC chair Darren Car- abott on the bank guarantee the government gave to help Elec- trogas secure financing until the European Commission cleared the security of supply agreement. On the increase of the guarantee from €110 million to €450 mil- lion, Mizzi said it was approved by the whole cabinet of ministers, saying it was needed for the pro- ject to go through. PAC chair and PN MP Darren Carabott said reports by the audi- tor general show the decision to go ahead with the power station project was taken on 10 October 2013 and was announced on 12 October 2013. Asked when and how he was informed Electrogas had won the bid for the project, Mizzi said he did not remember, insisting the Labour administration at the time had the electoral mandate to lower energy bills, and the power station process had to be quick. Questioned by the police The former minister dodged questioning on whether he was interrogated by the police about his ties to the Electrogas consor- tium. Asked by Carabott and PN MP David Agius if he had ever been questioned by the police, Mizzi did not answer. Pressed further, he said "he had nothing further to add". Yorgen Fenech discussions on Electrogas The former minister was asked if he had ever spoke to alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech on matters related to Electrogas. "Did you every speak to Fenech on liquidated damages and excise tax?" Opposition PAC members asked Mizzi. "I don't recall," answered Mizzi. "Whenever an Electrogas direc- tor came to me, I always referred them to the negotiating team." Carabott cited a Times of Mal- ta article on confiidential docu- ments concerning major projects under Mizzi's ministerial control were leaked to Fenech. When asked if Mizzi was mes- saging Fenech telling him to "delete his Whatsapp" messages on Electrogas, Mizzi replied by saying the question had nothing to do with the power station deal, and refused to answer. He said he did not remember if Fenech had spoken about the liquidated damages on the pro- ject and that he only knew that Fenech was the CEO of Tumas Group at the time. Mizzi also said he was not aware that Fenech was one of the own- ers of Electrogas shareholders New Energy Supply Limited. "When Yorgen spoke to me on technical matters, I would refer him to the negotiating team," he said. Mizzi's lawyer Carol Peralta, and government PAC members found issued with Carabott's line of questioning, saying it was not in line with the committee's ob- jectives. Decision to go for an offshore system Mizzi was also asked why the government had insisted on an offshore system, when it was es- tablished by the auditor general there were questionable assess- ments on the decision. "Studies showed the off shore solution was the best one," Mizzi said. When asked why the audi- tor general had not received the studies when carrying out his in- vestigation, the former minister said he did not know. Mizzi was asked by Agius how he felt on the lack of a unanimous decision by the Enemalta board on Electrogas. "Did it bother you?" He replied by saying the de- cision on the contract was not his, and said he was not sure if he knew if Lara Boffa was on the board. Boffa had voted against. Agius said there was an 11 Oc- tober 2013 meeting at Castille before the decision was taken, where the chosen company had declared, a day before the Ene- malta board had made its deci- sion, who had won the project contract. Mizzi passed the buck to the Programme Review Board, say- ing the PAC had to question them on that declaration. "The presentation was made in front of you!" Agius remarked. Asked on the connection be- tween the power station project, and the Montenegro project, Mizzi said there was none. Mizzi says he had no knowledge of Joseph Muscat's 'kitchen cabinet' Former minister Konrad Mizzi dodges questioning on whether he was interrogated by police about his ties to the Electrogas consortium HSBC'S online banking system crashed on Tuesday, after users flooded the bank's online system after receiving a text message. HSBC Malta's Online Banking system, application, and phone lines crashed after bank custom- ers received a message telling them to check their inbox and log into their HSBC online banking profiles. "We have sent you an important secure message. Please log in your HSBC Online Banking and check your inbox. Thanks," the message read. The not so proper English used in the text message, and custom- ers' inability to access the system led some users to think they were hacked. Users were notified that the bank would be switching from physical online banking tokens, or keys, to digital ones. The bank wanted its clients to be able to access their accounts in order to learn more about the new digital token sys- tem. When trying to access the ap- plication, users were met with the landing page indicating that they had been signed out. Users opting to call the bank's customer care were met with an automated mes- sage telling them HSBC was expe- riencing a surge in phone calls. HSBC confirmed these issues on its Facebook page, saying that both the Mobile Banking App and Online Banking were experienc- ing some intermittent problems. "We have sent an SMS message advising our customers to read an important message that we have sent through our Online Banking Secure Messaging system," read the post. HSBC's message sent to clients describes how the bank will be launching a simpler method to log in to Online Banking and how to authorise Online Banking trans- actions using their Mobile Bank- ing App. HSBC experiences system crash after customers told to access online accounts

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