French banks targeted over loans to suspect in Malta reporter’s murder

Paris, Oct 5 (AFP/APP):Campaigner seeking justice for murdered Malta journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia said Monday they had filed a complaint with French prosecutors against four banks over loans made to a suspect in her death.

Anti-corruption watchdog Sherpa and the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation want an inquiry into alleged money laundering by BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Natixis and CIC, as well as the Rivage investment fund. They say the banks provided money in November 2017 to ElectroGas Malta, owned by Yorgen Fenech, despite “strong suspicions of corruption” over the privatisation of the country’s gas market, and despite the journalist’s murder the previous month.

Fenech was arrested last year on charges of complicity in the death of Galizia Caruana, an investigative journalist killed by a car bomb in October 2017. “They should have realised that ElectroGas was at least involved in the corruption scandal revealed by the press,” said Sherpa and the foundation, which was set up by members of the journalist’s family. Contacted by AFP, France’s anti-fraud prosecutors, the PNF, confirmed reception of the complaint but declined to comment further.

Already in February, French prosecutors launched an investigation into the business dealings of Fenech and others under investigation in Malta over the killing. Fenech, who owns hotels and a racing-horse stable in France, is suspected of having used money from his French assets to bribe two senior figures inside the Maltese administration to win a major public contract.

Shortly before her assassination, Caruana Galizia had revealed that a company based in Dubai, 17 Black, had paid two million euros to Keith Schembri, former chief of staff to the then prime minister Joseph Muscat; and former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi.

After her death, a group of journalists who took up her investigation showed that 17 Black was owned by Fenech.

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