Yorgen Fenech

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Yorgen Fenech
Fenech interviewed by journalists as he walks in Valletta[1]
Born23 November 1981[citation needed]

Yorgen Fenech (born 23 November 1981 in Pietà, Malta) is a Maltese businessman whose main interests are casinos and hotels in Malta.[2] He was head of the Tumas Group and director of the Maltese-Azerbaijan-German company Electrogas and is believed to be one of the richest people in Malta.

Suspected of bribing members of the Joseph Muscat government, in November 2019 Fenech was arrested as a suspect in the murder of the investigative-journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.[3] He is a key figure in the Malta crisis 2019.


Fenech is a well-known Maltese businessman and believed to be one of the richest people in the country.[citation needed] 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 the Joseph Muscat's chief of staff Keith Schembri and to former energy minister Konrad Mizzi.[4] Later the research group of 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 but in 2019 he resigned from both positions.[5] 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".[6]

Daphne Galizia murder[edit]

On 16 October 2017, the investigative journalist Caruana Galizia died in a car bomb attack close to her home,[7][8] attracting widespread local and international reactions.[9][10] In December 2017, three men were arrested in connection with the car bomb attack.[11]

On 19 November 2019, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced a deal with a star-witness (which later turns out to be Melvin Theuma). This person should provide comprehensive information about the murder case and other crimes, but he receives impunity.[citation needed]

On 20 November Fenech attempted to leave Malta on his private yacht, with the Armed Forces of Malta intercepting his boat and arresting him as a "person of interest" in the Caruana Galizia murder enquiry.[12] Maltese media alleged that Fenech was familiar with Melvin Theuma, a taxi driver with links to criminal enterprises who had been described in local media as a potential "middleman" in the murder.[citation needed]

On 23 November 2019, Fenech offered himself as a witness. He promised information about the murder case and other offenses, in exchange for immunity.[citation needed]

On 25 November 2019, the star witness, Melvin Theuma, was pardoned by President George Vella at the request of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.[citation needed]

Fenech's defense tried to call the whole process into question. This was successful and Fenech was released on 29 November 2019. The businessman was prejudiced in public, so his defense said that he could not hope for a proper investigation and a fair trial. He argued that the second main suspect, Keith Schembri, had not been charged. He also argued that Schembri has turned the star witness Melvin Theuma against Fenech and paid for it. In addition, the police inspector in charge of the case had a close connection to Schembri and was therefore biased.[citation needed]

Prime Minister Muscat had set up a deal with a star witness Melvin Theuma, that heavily burdened Fenech. Media aside, Muscat tried to protect his personal friend Keith Schembri.[13]

On 30 November 2019, an indictment was filed against Fenech in Valletta court and he was accused of complicity in the murder of Caruana Galizia, amongst other charges. Fenech pleaded not guilty.[14] He has been back in jail since November 30, 2019.

Six days after the arrest of Fenech, Schembri resigned his government post on 26 November 2019, and was subsequently arrested by the police for questioning.[15][16] Schembri was later released by police. [17]

The doctor Adrian Vella was also arrested on this date. Vella's name also occuredin 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]

Yorgen 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]

If Yorgen Fenech is not pardoned, he does not receive the status of a witness. This is decided by the Maltese government in a long session in the night to 29 November 2019. The final decision lies with the president. Fenech is said to have paid the three hired killers 50,000 euros each. This is stated by the witness Melvin Theuma; he was granted immunity. Fenech has stayed in jail since then.[citation needed]

Muscat announced his resignation on 1 December 2019 on television, but he still wants to hold office until 12 January. He informed the President of Malta, George Vella, that he would be resigning his duties. His decision was influenced by the investigation and the then obvious connections to his staff.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Surreal scene: Yorgen Fenech goes for a walk, chats with reporters in Valletta". Archived from the original on 30 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Wem gehört 17 Black" (in German). Die Zeit. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Daphne Caruana Galizia: Malta businessman charged with complicity in murder". BBC.com. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  4. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50574968
  5. ^ "Anklage gegen möglichen Mittäter im Mordfall Galizia". Die Zeit. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Tumas Group disassociates itself from Yorgen Fenech". MaltaToday.com.mt.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "Murder in Paradise: A Car Bomb Kills A Crusading Journalist". The Economist. 21 October 2017. p. 52.
  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. ^ "Top UK newspapers slam 'mafia state' Malta over Caruana Galizia murder". The Times of Malta. 18 October 2017. Archived from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Daphne murder: 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech arrested on yacht". Times of Malta.
  13. ^ "Ex-Stabschef von Maltas Premier wieder freigelassen". Der Spiegel. 29 November 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  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. 'I don't think we know exactly whether he is being questioned or what he is being questioned about, so let's take it one step at a time', [the PM] said"
  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.
  22. ^ Grech, Herman. "Joseph Muscat expected to step down imminently". Times of Malta (29/11/19). Retrieved 29 November 2019.