Muscat: defrauder or defrauded? – Jacques René Zammit

It’s been a busy few days for disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat. Back from the motherland in Baku, he had a trip to the law courts where he has been forced on a defensive footing in a libel case that he had started.

His visit to the capital meant journalists could do some doorstepping and ask some vital questions, pardon the pun, concerning the Hospital Concession scandal that had happened on his watch.

Muscat made it a point to stress that the “government was the victim of the fraud”. “His government” he would hastily add. His cabinet of movers and shakers had stumbled upon a shady bunch who ended up turning a flagship project into a fraudulent activity to the detriment of the country.

Eyebrows firmly knotted together, jaw raised in slight indignation and a wry, condescending smile, Muscat would repeat – the government was the victim.

Now let’s put it this way. Imagine this was a football club. The new manager entrusted with the running of the team meets a man in a bar claiming to be an agent. He takes a liking to the agent. With no background checks at all, he convinces the club to sign a multi-million-euro contract for an unknown player represented by this agent. The contract is full of bonuses linked to simple appearances on the bench, and lots of added perks including a huge severance pay-out.

Imagine this player fails to perform. It turns out that this was not a player at all. Just a friend of the supposed agent, in on the scam. His situation is air-tight, including the severance pay-out running into the millions. The club has been scammed. Defrauded. Screwed. No two ways about it. In an interview with journalists, the manager will claim the club was the victim of fraud. A sad day for the club.

I guess that you can see where I am going with this. The barefaced cheek of Muscat in repeating the mantra of a government defrauded is better appreciated in this light.

The Vitals’ judgement could not have been any clearer about the fact that the fraudulent activity was the result of concerted behaviour. Concerted behaviour between the Vitals and the administration at the time of the concession. While the auditor general had highlighted ‘mismanagement of government resources’, the judgment goes so far as to specify that governmental representatives on the deal were inept, amateurish and disingenuous.

When a judge points out that the Memorandum of Understanding provided sufficient insider information for Vitals that it made the granting of the contract a foregone conclusion, Vitals is not alone in ‘defrauding the government’. The collusion from the inside means the government was also being defrauded by some of its own. Or, to put it more precisely, and logically, those entrusted with the government and management of the nation were busy screwing it instead.

Judge Francesco Depasquale called the granting of the contract a “fraudulently contrived process”. It is a process that requires not only Vitals but also the active participation of people in government. At the head of that government, actively promoting the flagship project was disgraced former PM Muscat. When the alarm bells started ringing, Muscat did nothing but defend the project.

Ask yourself the question. Does that make Muscat a part of those being defrauded or of the defrauders?


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9 days ago

I would just answer that question by putting it that way:

Joseph Muscat is either trying to act the complete idiot (which he certainly is not), or always having his fits of fitting amnesia when it comes to curcial questioning of his and his cabinet’s conduct while he was PM (that is surely more close to the reality).

I rather take it that he knew all and everything about it. Therefore, he can hardly be the defrauded. The defrauded part in all this is Malta – alone.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
9 days ago

How can Joseph Muscat claim his government to be a victim of a fraud when he was surrounded at the time of negotiations with Vitals by a think tank of the like of Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri, Chris Cardona, Edward Scicluna , Robert Abela and others?

Albert Beliard
Albert Beliard
8 days ago
Reply to  saviour mamo

The extent of this ‘fraud’ is seismic when placed in the context of the other scandals occurring. This is the reason for JM claiming that the ‘government is the victim’.

Stay tuned…. Together with a deal with Netflix, I reckon that The Shift News can win an Oscar/Best Award and get paid over $40 MILLION (like Chris Rock roasting Will Smith) for the Real Deal ‘Malta Dirty Laundry’ story :-))


8 days ago

And what about those in the executive that (willingly?) failed to monitor and report the non-performance of the contract? What about when they came to re-negotiating the contracts – who were the civil servants that failed to alert about breaches of contract? We know Chris Fearne was the responsible minister. We also know precisely why Godfrey Farrugia was kicked out.

It’s not like this was a black box that was uncovered 8 years later. Who was responsible for monitoring the ‘investment’?

The public services sits and watches until it is time to collect their generous pensions – meanwhile they bow their heads and hope the shit doesn’t hit the fan before their pensionable age.

8 days ago
Reply to  RAgius

It’s not always the way as you might see it in regards of the civil / public service. There are some books published by former Maltese civil cervants, including diplomatic staff, that tells their stories from the inside of the administration.

There are three of that sort I can mention.

The first is ‘Memories from the Front Line’ by Joseph R Grima.

The second is ‘No Honourable Minister’ by Evarist Bartolo.

The third is ‘Castille Behind The Scenes’ by Henry F. Coppini’.

Each one of them served in the Maltese governments administration as civil cervants and those books give their accounts over the past decades, some starting already in the 1950s. What they say sheds a light on the differences but also the similarities of both parties and their eras in power. But I also understand that what they tell might be not quite that exciting for readers without some access to the world of civil service, yet it is interesting as a part of Malta’s modern history and also gives some hints to why some things have never (really) changed, but also where there have been improvements made.

For example, in another article about the Minister Ian Borg, the way those in power use that in order to prevail with their own vested interests by putting much pressure on the authorities they are supposed to lead and supervise, is just confirming what I have read. But each one of the above mentioned authors have tried in their own ways to improve the service or to have things being done by the book. Not always easy for them, depending on who was PM and which minister they were accountable to.

Therefore, it is clear to me that the PL and thus the PM is always seing to it that they have ‘the right people in the right places’ in order to get as little to none resistence from the administration side and that they bend to the political will of the party in government.

6 days ago

Muscat with his DIPLOMATIC Passport cannot be arrested anywhere in the world.
He can get away with murder , metaphorically speaking.
Who else was given a Diplomatic Passport in Muscat’s circle of friends?

Steve M
Steve M
2 days ago

Being naive or stupid doesn’t mean you were defrauded. The information presented by Vitals wasn’t false, as it was given to them by government under the MOU. But the government should have sued for non performance

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