Robert Abela stopped from renegotiating ‘fraudulent’ deal at eleventh hour – NAO

National Audit Office states Prime Minister Robert Abela, a lawyer, was unaware that what he was negotiating was illegal until it was pointed out to him at the last minute.


Prime Minister Robert Abela was all set to sign a new deal with Steward Health Care in December 2020, less than a year from taking office, and was only stopped at the eleventh hour on the advice of the State Advocate and the Department of Contracts that what he was negotiating was illegal.

The National Audit Office investigation published on Monday rubbished Abela’s claims to parliament that he had changed the government’s course with Steward by giving a step-by-step account of what happened when Abela assumed power.

The account shows that following a lull of just a few weeks, Abela continued negotiations with the company and its president and CEO Armin Ernst over changes to the 2015 concession.

The NAO described the negotiations in which the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana were directly involved as an exercise in “poor management”.

Discussions culminated in a draft agreement, and a memo presented to and approved by Cabinet on 18 December 2020.

“The conclusions of this process led to the drafting of near-final agreements for the remodelling of the concession,” the NAO stated.

According to the information Steward gave the NAO , “by early December 2020, the parties were so confident of concluding negotiations and finalising the agreements that 18 December 2020 was formally set at the date of the signing of the renegotiated agreements.”

Among the new terms agreed upon but not yet signed, the government was to acquire the new Barts medical school building from Steward for €35 million and Steward would start being paid as a management contractor providing health services at Gozo General. Karin Grech and St Luke’s Hospitals .

A new Management Services Agreement was also drafted. That agreement was to regulate Steward’s provision of non-hospital management services for the remainder of the concession, until 18 May 2046.

Steward was to be paid a management fee that was still to be specified in the agreement.

The agreement, which already had Cabinet’s stamp of approval, was not signed only following the intervention of the State Advocate and the Department of Contracts, who advised that what was about to happen was illegal.

This was confirmed by Fearne, who told the NAO that “the State Advocate and the Department of Contracts advised that the agreed changes could not be effected, as these would constitute the government granting a direct contract to Steward”.

Only then, on the eve of the signing, Abela got cold feet and scrapped the whole process.

Lambasting Abela’s attempts to come out with a new deal, the NAO noted that “determining the permissibility of that being negotiated (by Robert Abela) ought to have been established at the outset and certainly prior to the approval of cabinet.

“This awareness (of illegality) was not evident as negotiations proceeded, only for it to be brought to the fore at the eleventh hour.”


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12 days ago

Just another day in Mafialand, no surprises here!

12 days ago

Ħmar mafjuż.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
12 days ago

So, it had to be pointed out to Lawyer Robert Abela that what he was negotiating was illegal. For what did the taxpayer paid him good money. Tal- mistħija!

12 days ago
Reply to  saviour mamo

He is also a fake lawyer or simply naive and brain dead.

12 days ago

How come a lawyer does not even smell a fraudulent contract , years after being legal consultant to a public entity that dishes out contracts by the hundreds?
Is his warrant also fraudulent? Just asking on behalf of the tax payers about the €400 million fraud and another apparent €200 million , that has just popped up out of the 3rd NAO report on the Hospital Real Highway Robbery Deal.
I guess , this would be a 100 for you and a 100 for us , across a long table in Kastilja between Konrad and Stewards and Muscat the Consultant and Abela the fake lawyer while the rest play bingo , with their expected share.

Francis Said
Francis Said
12 days ago

I have always thought to myself why a young professional earning €27,000 plus monthly would opt to earn a salary much much lower as Prime Minister. I very much doubt that a spanking brand new luxury car with chauffeur would be a decisive carrot.
Joseph Muscat, on the other hand sacrificed his political career to enter into private practice billing €450,000 whilst incurring €260,000 in expenses. One must also add the free refurbished office and the other perks!!!!
Something does not sound sensible.
Please do not tell me that both took their decisions purely for the love of the Country!!!!

12 days ago

Dan Robert mhux l istess wiehed li kien jaf kull ministeru x qed isir fih qabel ma gie mghazul biex jisserva?

11 days ago

There’s only one solution to stop this daylight robbery by the muvument korrott led by now the liar ex-consultant to the most corrupt xpm Malta ever had :

  • Civil Disobedience
  • Stop paying for services – w&e bills
  • Stop paying income tax
  • Make a petition to to the EU to stop all sorts of aid and subsidies as these are only helping the corrupt lot and enhancing illegalities and corruption.

This corrupt government and his trolls have stolen enough of our money. They should be held liable for all the damage they have caused the honest Maltese worker – make them bring their millions invested or hidden in some corrupt country and confiscate their assets and bank accounts.

When this happens we promise to abide by the maltese laws and regulations.

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