Konrad Mizzi’s former right hand man will now oversee millions of euros in EU funds

Ronald Mizzi, the government official who signed off on major corruption scandals, now tasked with EU funding

 

Tista’ taqra l-artiklu bil-Malta hawn.

Ronald Mizzi, the permanent secretary who served as disgraced former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi’s right hand man and who oversaw all of the corrupt deals signed on his watch, will now also be responsible for the administration of millions of euros in EU funding.

In his role as the top official second only to the minister himself, Mizzi was a key decision-maker in the country’s biggest scandals – the Electrogas deal, the ITS-DB land transfer, and the concession of three hospitals were three of the biggest ones.

In a statement that was largely dominated by the resignation of long-serving permanent secretary for the finance ministry Alfred Camilleri and the appointment of his successor, Paul Zahra, the government also announced Mizzi’s extended portfolio on Monday.

As of this week, Mizzi will now be fully responsible for all contractual arrangements related to the ministry for economy, industry, lands and EU funds, under the direct command of Minister Silvio Schembri, who has also drawn sustained criticism over his decision to spend €31 million on converting a former bathroom showroom into the Malta Business Registry’s new premises.

During the previous legislature, Ronald Mizzi was the permanent secretary for the ministry of tourism, even after his shamed political master, Konrad Mizzi, was forced to resign following public pressure that eventually led to the ouster of disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

During the five year span in which Mizzi was permanent secretary in that ministry, the beleaguered national airline, Air Malta, was trumpeted as government success story that had turned a profit despite its ailing finances.

In reality, the financial situation of the airline has become so dire that it has necessitated repeated state aid handouts and a severe restructuring process that was bungled up since pilots and other staff members who were made redundant were promised equal pay and conditions within the civil sector.

In fact, the financial accounts of Air Malta have been kept under wraps for the past three years, a marked deviation from normal practice that always saw the airline make those accounts public.

Besides the creative accounting that went down at Air Malta, another questionable decision taken by the tourism ministry at the time was the signing of a sponsorship deal with Manchester United for an undisclosed sum of taxpayers’ money.

The Shift revealed that the deal, whose terms were never fully disclosed to the public, had mainly resulted in heaps of self-promotional material for the minister and even VIP treatment for the tourism minister and his entourage on their regular jaunts to Old Trafford, the football club’s stadium.

When Konrad Mizzi previously served as minister for energy and health, Ronald Mizzi was also at his side, serving as both permanent secretary for that ministry as well as the permanent secretary for the minister within the office of the prime minister when his former boss was moved to that position.

During that time, the Electrogas power station project and the concession of three public hospitals were ratified by the Maltese government.

In several damning reports authored by the National Audit Office (NAO), both deals were condemned for major deviations from standard public procurement practices, with flawed bidder selection processes and terms which consistently favoured private rather than public interest.

Regarding the concession of public hospitals, a deal that was originally signed with Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) and was later taken over by Steward Healthcare, the information provided to the NAO by the permanent secretary was not verifiable by that same office.

During the NAO’s investigation, a feasibility study drawn up by Konrad Mizzi’s longtime friend and associate David Galea was cited as the only report which determined that VGH was the right bidder for the concession.

According to the NAO, the report had no date and there were no letters of appointment regarding its commissioning. While Mizzi had told the NAO that the analysis was carried out in 2015, no correspondence or data was made available to them to confirm his statements.

“The NAO was not provided with any documentation evidencing when the team of experts were convened or when they reported to the Ministry, casting doubt on the integrity of information provided to this office,” the report stated.

The Electrogas deal, spearheaded by Konrad Mizzi with the assistance of his permanent secretary, remains the subject of an open Public Accounts Committee probe and has been the subject of several NAO reports which described it as a vitiated deal.

Besides costing taxpayers twice as much for the provision of gas due to the $1 billion deal the government of Malta signed with Azerbaijani state-owned oil company SOCAR, the deal itself nearly fell through due to financial issues which were only papered over when the government provided a guarantee on a €450 million bridge loan issued by BOV.

                           
                               
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mick
mick
25 days ago

Another consiglieri who knows where the bodies are, an advocate of omerta, ensuring that his boss’s “continuity” prevails over honesty and transparency. Only Mafia rules apply in this dystopian state.

makjavel
makjavel
25 days ago

These guys should be handling brooms in jail not EU millions in Kastilja.

carlos
25 days ago
Reply to  makjavel

EU PLEASE NOTE we’re fed being s c r e w d

Francis Said
Francis Said
25 days ago

From the frying pan into the fire. How can anyone with such a stinky C.V be given this responsibility?
Again another example of taxpayers’ funds being badly administered.

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