In March 2023, the court declared the Vitals hospital concession fraudulent, but President George Vella simply brushed off questions on whether he felt any responsibility.
“We are waiting for objective reports on facts and figures, and then we speak after that”, he barked in default aggressive hostility.
We’re now “after that” as the court of appeal has issued its definitive judgement. “Senior officials” in Labour’s government, of which Vella was one, colluded with Vitals to draw up a fake contract (simulat) intended “to funnel money out of state coffers and into the pockets of Vitals”.
The sentence is scathing of the Labour Party’s collusion to the detriment of the national interest and the millions of euros it cost the country.
Vella has all the objective reports he needs: Detailed NAO reports bursting with facts and figures. Even Steward published all the audited management accounts since 2015 for him to scrutinise at leisure.
And now he has a 99-page sentence brimming with the most disgusting facts about Labour’s betrayal of the nation. His government defrauded the country and sought the interests of Vitals instead of the national interest. But Vella maintains his complicit silence.
In March, he was asked whether he had ever objected to privatising the three hospitals. He replied, “Studies and preparations were made for the deals at the time”.
What studies? No studies were performed, no medical professionals were consulted, and the medical association was not even informed when Labour drew up its top-secret Memorandum of Understanding in October 2014 with a gang of scammers, later to become Vitals.
What preparations? The only preparation Labour made was opening up secret offshore companies in top-secret financial jurisdictions. And what did Vella do? He defended Konrad Mizzi in parliament and shielded his party and its rotten leaders.
Vella is a doctor- he knew that Ram Tumuluri and his secret collaborators had never run a clinic, let alone a hospital. His medical colleagues warned him that this was a scam from the very start.
Daphne Caruana Galizia exposed Tumuluri’s shady past and his utter unfitness for the role he was taking on. Vella knew this, yet he vociferously defended Labour’s fraud at the expense of the people’s health, which he took an oath to preserve.
“If a deal goes wrong, one can’t say it was premeditated”, Vella declared. Is the man just dumb or deviously dishonest?
Well, the court sentence has completely demolished Vella’s defence of his crooked friends. “The intention behind the concession wasn’t improvement in medical services but simply to serve as a means to funnel money from state coffers into the pockets of Vitals”, leaving us with no doubt that everything was pre-meditated.
“Even the Memorandum of Understanding of 10 October 2014, from the very start, did not reflect the intended project but served only as an instrument for Vitals to gain the necessary information from the government to prepare its proposal in readiness for the request for proposals of 27 March 2015”, the sentence reads.
When “the deal goes wrong”, our political leaders should be there to protect our interests, but they didn’t. “Nothing was done about any part of the project as evidenced by the list of unachieved milestones”.
The court couldn’t have been more explicit: “Those who had the duty to protect the national interest gave one extension after another to conceal the fact that the agreement was just a facade and not the real deal and continued to pay millions of euros to Vitals/Steward even though they were not meeting their obligations”.
Vella was one of those with the duty to protect the national interest, but he failed to do so, and instead, he voted to protect Konrad Mizzi and in cabinet to provide extensions to Vitals. He is as complicit and responsible for the biggest fraud in Malta’s history as the rest of his cabinet colleagues.
His votes helped Joseph Muscat “give the impression that everything was going well” when it was clear that “the project was undeliverable”. That contract was “the fruit of simulation and collusion”, and George Vella was part of it.
No wonder he refuses to condemn it or brushes off questions about his responsibility.
If our president had the slightest grain of integrity in his body, he would step down. He is politically responsible for the “simulation and collusion” as he formed part of that cabinet that engineered the theft of hundreds of millions of euros from the people.
He is to blame for the dilapidated state of St Luke’s, the failure to build a new Gozo hospital, the appalling state in which patients are cared for in a hospital canteen, the medical school library and an underground corridor. He has no place occupying any seat of office, least of all the office of president.
In several corrupt countries, such as Pakistan, Mali, Nigeria, Liberia and South Africa, a reality show called “Integrity Idol” has gained immense popularity. Over 10 million people have watched it, and over 400,000 have voted.
In the show, honest public officials compete for glory and fame. “Integrity Idol” honours those who speak up against corruption, put themselves at risk to protect their nation, and speak out against the criminality of senior politicians.
The show delivers a punch in the face to crooked politicians and their cronies. Maybe it’s time to bring the show to Malta. If it’s brought here, Vella will not be on it.