(Adds Total comment in paragraph 8 and detail in paragraph 3)
By Chris Scicluna
VALLETTA Feb 21 Malta's state-owned energy
group said it has excluded two trading companies from oil supply
contracts pending the conclusion of police investigations
concerning alleged illegal commissions in 2004 and 2005.
"The Fuel Procurement Committee has decided to exclude
Trafigura and TOTSA in view of the current
investigations," a spokeswoman for Enemalta said in a statement
TOTSA is the oil trading arm of French oil major Total
and Trafigura is a top five private oil trading house.
"Trafigura recognises that these are serious accusations,"
the trading house said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
"In Malta, fuel supplies to Enemalta are made through a
public tender process managed by the Government's Fuel
Procurement Committee; Trafigura has regularly submitted bids in
accordance with this tender process and when successful has
delivered fuel to Enemalta," it said. "We are keeping the matter
The Enemalta committee also decided to cancel its most
recent fuel procurement tenders, even though some offers had
already been received, as a precaution.
"The process precludes the corporation's Procurement
Committee from knowing who made an offer. No offers were opened
and all invited suppliers were informed accordingly," the
Enemalta spokeswoman said.
"TOTSA learnt via the press its exclusion from Enemalta's
fuel supply contracts. Totsa is not aware of being part of an
investigation. We have no knowledge that illegal commissions
were paid in 2004 and 2005," a spokeswoman for TOTSA said.
Malta police on Tuesday arraigned in court former Enemalta
Chairman Tancred Tabone and his adviser Frank Sammut and accused
them of bribery, corruption and money laundering. More
arraignments are expected, legal sources told Reuters.
The arraignments followed a government decision to grant a
pardon to Total's former local agent, George Farrugia, in return
for information given to the police and to a court.
Total said that Farrugia was not exclusively working for
Total and had a number of other clients.
Maltese oil purchases have an approximate value of 1 million
euros ($1.3 million) per day, according to local reports.
($1 = 0.7563 euros)
(Additional reporting by Emma Farge and Muriel Boselli in
London; Editing by David Holmes and Anthony Barker)