President George Vella, a doctor by profession, hasn’t uttered a single word about the fraudulent hospitals deal. He’s not going to, because he’s more to blame for it than any other Cabinet minister, bar Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat.
Vella’s utter shamelessness was evident in his arrogant reply to reporters: “We are waiting for objective reports on facts and figures, and then we’ll speak after that”.
President Vella has four detailed objective reports with all the facts and figures to scrutinise. The National Audit Office published the first part of the Vitals audit on 7 July 2020. It’s 219 pages.
On 28 July 2020, it was compelled to publish an addendum after it was eventually handed the secret Memorandum of Understanding that had been ‘lost’. That addendum is 19 pages.
A second detailed NAO report, 80 pages long, was published in December 2021. And on 24 February, the court published a 136-page judgement on the hospitals’ scam.
What are those, if not detailed objective reports bursting with facts and figures?
Those facts and figures only emerged through the hard work and dedication of the professionals at the NAO. It was no thanks to Konrad Mizzi, who refused to meet the NAO. And it wasn’t thanks to George Vella and his government who did everything they could to withhold information.
“The NAO was unable to audit the process of negotiations as information made available was severely limited,” the report states. Minutes of negotiation meetings were not provided to the NAO. The Attorney General’s advice to the prime minister was never given to the NAO.
The government is still hiding it, claiming it’s lost.
The hospitals’ agreements were never published. When they were tabled in parliament, entire pages were redacted. Concession milestones were intentionally concealed.
But Vella now wants an “objective report” with facts and figures. He never asked for objective reports when he repeatedly voted in Cabinet to let Vitals rip us off.
Vella was asked if he ever objected to the privatisation of the three hospitals. He said studies and preparations were made for the deals at the time. What preparations? What studies?
VGH was meant to provide a €3 million guarantee to the government, according to the Services Concession Agreement (SCA). This was provided by Bluestone Special Situation 4 Ltd, but the company’s total share capital was only €1,200. Where was Vella then?
He never asked who was actually behind VGH. He never requested the facts about Bluestone Special Situation 4 Ltd. If he had, he’d never have got those facts because the company was registered in the British Virgin Islands, a highly secretive jurisdiction. He never asked for VGH’s due diligence report. It’s still a secret.
Vella has all the facts he wants. His government promised that VGH would invest €200 million. VGH invested nothing and failed to pay taxes and national insurance contributions, accumulated €12 million in operating losses and had several garnishee orders against it for the €32 million it owed creditors.
While Vella was in Cabinet, VGH never submitted any audited accounts. Yet Vella and his colleagues gave VGH €144.74 million out of our taxes.
Did Vella ask for objective reports then? Vella was duty-bound to demand those audited accounts. He was responsible for insisting on seeing them. But what did he do?
He defended Konrad Mizzi in parliament, voting in his support, and chastised the opposition deputy leader for “mentioning the word corruption more than once”.
What Vella did was watch VGH fail every concession milestone and he approved waiver after waiver to let them off.
Vella has the facts. All of them. He was in that Cabinet.
VGH should have submitted a handover plan by 29 March 2016. It didn’t.
It was obliged to submit design plans by 30 August 2016. It didn’t.
Fifty new beds should have been added to Karin Grech Hospital by 1 July 2017 – they weren’t.
Barts’ medical school should have been completed by 1 July 2017 – it was still a hole in the ground. Eighty new beds should have been added to St Luke’s hospital by 30 September 2017.
St Luke’s is still a wreck. The new Gozo hospital should have been built by 31 May 2018 – not a single stone was laid. Still hasn’t.
Gozo General Hospital should have been fully refurbished by 30 September 2018 – it wasn’t. By 31 December 2018, we should have had medical tourism beds. The court sentence concluded that “this milestone will never be implemented”.
What did George Vella do? Did he ask for objective reports? No, he betrayed the people.
Instead of holding VGH to account, he authorised payments of over €140 million to the company. He approved waiver after waiver to let VGH escape.
Not only did VGH not invest €200 million, but it also took millions with it when it left. Ram Tumuluri alone received an initial payment of €2.5 million.
Vella wants the facts. He can see the facts or, rather, can’t. Where is the refurbished St Luke’s Hospital? Or the new Gozo hospital? Where is the St Luke’s Chinese clinic? Or the nursing school they promised?
Vella didn’t bother asking anything. He even provided his authorisation for two side letters to the SCA after Konrad Mizzi had already signed them.
Vella was responsible for protecting the country. As a doctor, he should have protected our treasured health service. As the most senior member of the Cabinet, he should have asked questions.
Instead, he closed both eyes when VGH failed to provide its financing agreements. On 29 March 2016, 14 February 2017 and 23 June 2017, Vella, with the rest of the Cabinet, allowed Vitals to continue to conceal its financing agreements.
Yet he and the rest of Joseph Muscat’s Cabinet funnelled €144.7 million into VGH without asking the most basic questions.
The President should be begging the nation for forgiveness for his reckless negligence. Instead, he’s parroting Robert Abela’s deception.
What one won’t see, one doesn’t sees.
I don’t expect neither President Vella, nor PM Robert Abela and certainly not at all Joseph Muscat to apologise to the nation for anything, let alone ‘begging for forgiveness’. They don’t see any wrongdoing themselves, rather continuing with distracting and deflecting from the facts, as gathered in all the publications mentioned in this article. That is ‘the real PL’ from top ranks to the average party member and voter.
Congratulations for this article, how can i ever call him president?
It is significant to know that when the Labour government took over Arriva’s operations ,the government’s share of the debt was of € 15 million. This means that the Vitals/Steward Health Care deal is approximately 30 times worse than that of Arriva
Do no harm… to himself.
The worst one ever!
Yes indeed. Even worse than the horrible Agatha Barbara.
I have to go to the optometrist – every time I read the word ‘minister’ I see ‘criminal’. When the word ‘government’ appears it is replaced with ‘mafia’. ‘President’ becomes ‘irresponsible old git’.
This president only makes everything about himself, and to hell with the citizenry. The walk of shame awaits him.
And for sure Evarist is licking his lips.
Firstly he’s not my president; as he always supported and is still supporting the corrupt and corruption, so he’s no less corrupt than korrot mizzi, keith schembri or the most corrupt of them all –
joseph muscat OCCRP
Perhaps his saintly eyes were watering when he collectively approved at each Cabinet meeting the granting of millions to Vitals ( a crooked gang of pretenders) when each year as President he pleads with common folk to donate generously when hosting the Strina jamboree.
Perhaps charity begins at home that is why he protected his son in law ( a disgraced MFSA CEO ) caught hobnobbing with suspect Jurgen Feneck .Again his daughter in law, a young inexperienced economist was catapulted to a technical adviser with a €60,000 starting salary.Inkomplu nithazru George…
Honk if you think Vella is the worst president ever!
PROSIT u prosit tassew Kevin. Dejjem tolqot il-musmar fuq rasu. Tghid hemm cans li dak li ktibt jixxandar bil-malti fuq dardir malta forsi xi darba jinqered il-qerq, is-serq u l-gideb li jinghad mill-muvument korrot.