Hospitals inquiry highlights government obstruction to protect those investigated

Aqra bil-Malti.

While Prime Minister Robert Abela has repeatedly questioned the timing of the inquiry, calling the magistrate a “political terrorist”, the inquiry he had in his hands explained the lack of cooperation from the authorities as a major factor in that delay.

The inquiry points out the “huge obstruction and/or non-cooperation by institutions that are obliged to be active parts of a preventive wall against money laundering and terrorist financing”.

“In this inquiry, a lot of government institutions and /or government officials, banks and/or their employees and state enterprises and/or their employees tried to make it impossible to discover what actually happened in relation to the Hospital Concession.”

It lists BOV, Malta Enterprise, Projects Malta, tax authorities, the public registry’s (lack of) findings, Identity Malta, and lists Pakistani Shaukat Ali, who the inquiry says benefitted from millions of euro in the deal, as an example.

“Even though the Members of the European Parliament, of which Malta is a member, decided that persons with legitimate interests, such as journalists, reporters, media and civil society organisations, higher education institutions, not to mention Magistrates, Prosecutors, Judges, should be able to access the various registers, we struggled to obtain accurate information in this inquiry because of widespread obstruction and an absence of cooperation,” the inquiry report states.

The magistrate highlights information sought on Shaukat Ali, the man behind the deal whose children and wives earned millions from the hospitals concession, confirming The Shift’s investigations with other newsrooms over the years.

The inquiry states that Identity Malta could not find any records of Shaukat Ali even though there was plenty of evidence that he held a residency card and a Maltese passport.

The magistrate was obliged to go for the seizure of documents: “This is just an example and is illustrative of why this inquiry has taken so long, because of obstruction and non-cooperation.”

Why was everyone protecting Shaukat Ali?

The Shift reported in 2019 that Shaukat Ali was at the centre of all the dealings related to Vitals Global Healthcare in Malta and abroad – a fact now confirmed by the inquiry.

Further investigations, conducted by The Shift in collaboration with The Times of Malta and OCCRP, showed that millions were diverted to his children and his two wives. As soon as the government deposited millions, the money was siphoned off to personal accounts.

Press investigations also revealed that Shaukat Ali was put on the hospitals’ concession payroll at Keith Schembri’s insistence.

The inquiry states: “Shaukat Ali and his family appear to have been major beneficiaries of the funds diverted from the concession by various means. Millions of euro were also paid to Mark Pawley and Ram Tumuluri, although it seems probable that they must have been obligated to pass on a substantial proportion of these sums to others.”

Joseph Muscat knew about it

Importantly, the inquiry concludes that “none of this could have been achieved without the connivance of well-placed senior officials, particularly high-ranking ministers and the Office of the Prime Minister.”

In fact, the inquiry goes on to state that Joseph Muscat knew about it all and that Keith Schembri was involved every step of the way:

“We found that the close relationship between Keith Schembri (Schembri) and the Shaukat Ali family was pivotal to the success of the concession movement and that the actions of each party have the hallmarks of corrupt practice and manipulation to achieve it.”

It also states that this was only possible through Shaukat Ali’s friendship with Keith Schembri, the chief of staff of disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat. The inquiry shows Shaukat Ali was setting up bank accounts for Keith Schembri and Mizzi in Dubai.

Despite the lack of cooperation by the authorities, documents seized by the court showed that Aasia Parveen, wife of Shaukat Ali, bought an apartment at Tigne Point for €1 million. Midi plc paid the purchase price in her name. The magistrate recommended further investigations on tax evasion.

Shaukat Ali Abdul Ghafoor Tigne

Shaukat Ali Abdul Ghafoor (left) with Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s head of security John Portelli (centre) at Tigne Point, Sliema.

The magistrate highlights the lack of cooperation by the authorities on investigations related to Shaukat Ali. “That ldentity Malta did not find any records is of great concern, posing the obvious question of how many passports and identity cards were issued without keeping any records. This may be deemed worthy of future investigation.”

The inquiry points out that despite the fact that Shaukat Ali had opened a resident bank account and his relatives had acquired permanent residence certificates, the authorities could not find any file or record of him.

Shaukat Ali’s agents

It also showed that he used several people as fronts, including Ram Tumuluri and Mark Pawley.

“The data repeatedly shows that if Ram Tumuluri is involved in a project, Shaukat is kept informed. And if Shaukat is informed, so usually is Keith Schembri,” the inquiry concluded.

It also shows that Shaukat Ali was introduced to Malta through disgraced former EU Commissioner John Dalli, whom Joseph Muscat recruited as a healthcare consultant after Dalli escaped criminal charges.

“John Dalli was active in Libya during the Gaddafi regime at the same time as Shaukat Ali was resident in Libya. There are a lot of documents proving business links between the Shaukat Ali family and the John Dalli family.”

Another front for Shaukat Ali, which the inquiry describes as “Shaukat Ali’s agents”, was Ivan Vassallo of Technoline.

The Shift reported in January 2019 that Vitals Global Healthcare had used €5 million of taxpayer funds to purchase Technoline through companies created in Jersey. The inquiry confirms these findings.

                           

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5 Comments
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paul pullicino
paul pullicino
27 days ago

It started in 2011. We only noticed parts of the journey over the next few years. Now the parts start to fall into place.

J. Ellul Grech
27 days ago

John Dalli claims he provided his services for free when he was appointed as health advisor. That may be true, but allegedly he received backhanders.

Greed
Greed
27 days ago
Reply to  J. Ellul Grech

Dalli does absolutely nothing for free he has the cancer of greed eating away at him?

Jay Ho
Jay Ho
27 days ago

“Demonstrations in Malta are rare and generally peaceful. In the event of a demonstration, visitors should take sensible precautions and avoid crowds,” the UK government said. 
The world is watching this farce, judging, and we just clap clap.

adriang
adriang
27 days ago

+Robert Abela spews vitriol against Magistrates and Civil Society
+ Josef Muscat shouts I’m innocent consistantly and vigorously
+ The AG arraigns ‘them all’ without going into it – the evisence is there she says
+ The police force is conspicously silent, and not investigating further
… is this all an elaborate plan to have the AG derail the case, or let it die, or even blame the smaller fish?? What’s being done to safeguard that this will not happen?
What if she is actually there to make sure that justice is obstructed?

Last edited 27 days ago by adriang

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