Hospitals Heist: The time has come

Aqra bil-Malti

Disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat said he had no doubt he would face charges following the magisterial inquiry into the hospitals deal, the outcome of which is not yet public.

According to a decree signed by Judge Edwina Grima, his name, together with former minister Konrad Mizzi and Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, tops the list of more than a dozen people and companies identified as money laundering suspects in connection with the hospitals scandal.

The police have six months to seize the assets of these suspects – most are names we have brought you over the years in our investigations on the privatisation of three of Malta’s public hospitals, first raised by murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2015 when she revealed Ram Tumuluri’s background.

The scandal has been at the forefront of our investigations for the last seven years. We told you about the role Pakistani Shaukat Ali and his son, Asad, played in the deal, Armin Ernst’s game with Steward Healthcare CEO Ralph de la Torre, Technoline, Mtrace, and others, all part of the dirty deal.

A year ago, a deep-dive investigation between The Shift, OCCRP and The Times of Malta, with the support of the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, revealed that disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s consultancy contract with a Swiss company suspected of funnelling public funds back to the ‘investors’ was under investigators’ microscope.

The contract was to earn Muscat €15,000 a month for three years for a total of €540,000. It was also to be automatically renewed for another three years before it was suddenly stopped after four monthly payments when Accutor went out of business.

The suspicion was that the consultancy contract Muscat entered into with Swiss firm Accutor after stepping down was simply a kickback vehicle for the public hospitals’ deal.

Muscat has consistently denied the contract was a kickback for the hospitals’ deal. Yet, before the conclusions of the magisterial inquiry have been made public, he has already said he had no doubt he would be charged.

The deep-dive investigation into transactions showed those involved lived the high life while taxpayer money went into their pockets. Over 22,000 transactions between 2015 and 2020 showed investors paid each other millions in consultancies and personal expenses, including luxury cars and travel while Malta’s hospitals continued to deteriorate.

The funds were funnelled through the same Swiss firm that engaged Joseph Muscat as a consultant.

It’s been four years since Repubblika requested the magisterial inquiry. Meanwhile, evidence piled up as a result of press investigations. The NAO condemned the deal in detailed reports, and the PN won a case filed by MP Adrian Delia to return the hospitals to the public.

Throughout, we were told to let the institutions work as the police did not lift a finger to act on any of the evidence being made public.

Five police commissioners, since they came to power in 2013 – all in snooze mode or bent the law to ensure those in power and their friends avoided prosecution.

Now, it seems that finally, a magistrate has done her job without fear or favour despite several attempts by Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela to disrupt the inquiry and discredit it before it could be finished.

The magistrate resisted. They have launched a political attack against her. This is typical of the Labour Party’s playbook.

The law prohibits attacks on the judiciary intended to intimidate or unlawfully influence the judiciary in its functions. It’s not the first time those in government have twisted the law to suit their own purposes.

It is now up to the Attorney General and the police to decide whether to prosecute. Their track record of defending those in power despite indisputable evidence means things can still go wrong, and games can still be played.

It is also up to the public to remain vigilant to ensure justice is served.

                           

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7 Comments
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James
James
20 days ago

We can only that at long last justice will be seen to be done!!

Mick
Mick
20 days ago

It will have all the usual caveats when it comes out. “Time barred”, missing evidence, no conclusive proof, commercial sensitivity, witness lied, etc etc This is Mafialand everything is a facade, rejoice if and when Corradino opens its doors.

Citizen Gahan
Citizen Gahan
20 days ago
Reply to  Mick

Exactly, Sir. The Institutions are only working for PM Abela when they protect Labour’s screw ups, lately he seems to be doubting his own mantra…. But hey, leave those poor ex ministers, chief of staff and PM Muscat alone: The highest price was already payed, they were forced out of power…Viva Labour!

Vic
Vic
13 days ago
Reply to  Mick

The Police are experts at this sort distortion of justice. The power is in their hands ….and their are in power some who have used this technique over and over again.

RAgius
RAgius
20 days ago

Thank you Caroline and your team!

Can I suggest you write a story about the civil servants especially the perm secs, who after all, facilitated these multiple heists. Why has no civil servants been brought to account. No Minister, or his personal staff, can execute any transaction involving government funds. Who authorised the payments? The direct orders? Who approved illogical plans and funding? Who??

Chris
Chris
20 days ago

The time has come to complete one of the most despicable Maltese proverbs:

Min hexa mexa dritt ghal gol kordin.

Ray
Ray
13 days ago

Issa forsi qabel is-sitt xhur l- attorney General u gafa jqumu mir-raqda w jiffrizawlhom il-bajd ghax l-assi jkunu kolla ghosfru.

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