Gov’t hints at legal action re PV Energy deal

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It appears that the government may follow through on plans to file a legal challenge against the management of PV Energy.

Government officials are attempting to get the British energy company to supply batteries that are needed to power various solar projects, including the one at the international airport, which the company was contracted to complete in 2016.

PV Energy was asked to either provide the batteries or compensate the government for a reported $4 million paid by the current administration.

More than a year later, Utilities Minister Sir Robin Yearwood told the Observer AM radio show yesterday that legal action may be the only option at this time.

“I am not at all happy with how it is going, not at all, and so we had monies which is still in the bank up to now and I stopped them from getting that money to buy batteries.

“We are not satisfied with how this is going; the Prime Minister and them had a chat and they were supposed to start doing everything but from the time the meeting was finished we haven’t heard nothing from them and I honestly and personally feel that is heading towards the courts,” Sir Robin revealed.

The first part of the project, a 3 MW facility constructed under the then Energy Minister Asot Michael’s watch, is located on approximately nine acres of land and includes fully computerised operational and monitoring facilities integrated into APUA’s system control network.

The 10 MW initiative is a joint project involving the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, APUA and PV Energy.

This project has seen a number of controversies over the years as one of the men who was involved in a US$4.3 million fraud scandal over a decade ago, Jo Hanns Dieter Trutschler, was said to be connected to PV Energy.

According to a 2003 report from the United Nations’ Office of Internal Oversight Services, Trutschler illegally diverted US$4.3 million from “the public electricity provider in Serbia” to a bank account under his control in Gibraltar while he was working in Kosovo in 2002.

At the time, he was a senior staff member of the UN’s interim administration mission in Kosovo, a job he apparently secured using fake academic qualifications, according to the UN report.

Apart from being an employee, Trutschler has another connection to PV Energy through his wife, who owns a company that owns shares in PV Energy, while Peter Virdee is the principal of PV Energy.

The government’s dealings with the company raised concerns among the public in 2018, when a UK High Court judgement, revealed that two men – British billionaire Virdee and Trutschler – had been recorded discussing an attempted shake-down by MP Asot Michael, who also tried to solicit gifts from one of them.

However, Chief of staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, said that the method of financing the project was “innovative but transparent, and capable of open public scrutiny”.

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