Opinion: Local ‘hero’, international crook

Accutor Consulting AG, the company that paid Muscat €15,000 per month before its account was frozen, was described by its own officials as “a criminal enterprise,” the inquiry shows.

Confirming press investigations, the inquiry states: “(Former) prime minister Joseph Muscat received two payments of €15,000 from an offshore company that had been set up using funds derived from the Maltese Healthcare concession.”

Accutor was part of a group of Jersey companies revealed by The Shift in 2018 set up by Shaukat Ali and Ram Tumuluri, controlled by Shaukat Ali and primarily funded by over €360,000 diverted from the hospitals’ concession.

Tens of thousands of euro that landed in Muscat’s BOV account came from money meant for the hospitals’ concession.  The four €15,000 payments to Muscat were even “flagged as suspicious by the receiving Maltese bank (BOV)”.

Steward paid Accutor AG another €4.7 million between January 2018 and April 2019 and a further €500,000 between September 2019 and April 2020 as part of what Armin Ernst described as “a consultancy agreement with Accutor supporting political and government activities and interactions.”

That was our money intended for our hospitals. Instead, it went to a criminal gang before vanishing in Switzerland, Dubai, and Tunisia.

Steward sent another €2.5 million to Accutor AG for Ram Tumuluri – but he only got €1.2 million.  The rest went to others.

“Swiss agents Accutor acting for the Ali family used monies diverted from the concession to fund payments to, or on behalf of Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, and Joseph Muscat,” the inquiry report concluded.

Steward, the company Prime Minister Robert Abela defended in parliament, “managed to make very large transfers to Shaukat Ali’s family companies in secrecy jurisdictions.”

The inquiry report described Shaukat Ali as  “a person with significant power and influence… bestowed on him by his political connections in government.

It was the politicians who made him, and in Malta, they were Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, and Konrad Mizzi.

“In return, Shaukat Ali provided business opportunities, assisted with companies and bank accounts in Dubai and secured Accutor as a vehicle to facilitate payments derived from the award of the concession for the benefit of Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi,” the inquiry report concluded.

It wasn’t petty cash.  After the first payment by the government to Vitals, Shaukat Ali and his family received almost €8 million.

“Significant additional amounts” were paid to the Ali family by Steward. Initially, €2 million was paid, followed by “several million more” from procurement fraud.

The inquiry report noted that “in total, we estimate it was probably in excess of €10 million and quite possibly double that”.

Shaukat Ali was being paid €100,000 per month in consultancy fees.  His sons Asad and Wajid were being paid €60,500 and €25,000 per month respectively.

Shaukat Ali’s wife, Aasia, also received €25,000 monthly.  In addition, Shaukat Ali had a €120,000 Mercedes for his use.

His family members also had their own vehicles funded by taxpayers.  They all had private health insurance.  Credit cards and even professional fees of their legal advisors were paid from Maltese taxpayers’ money.

When the concession was awarded, Shaukat Ali received a total of €5 million in success fees “funded from the Maltese healthcare concessions”.   But “not all of the €5 million paid… was for the sole benefit of Shaukat Ali”.

Within one month of Vitals taking over the hospitals, Shaukat Ali was assisting Schembri and Mizzi with setting up accounts for their Panama companies (Tillgate and Hearnville).

He helped them open four Dubai companies and facilitated their attempts to open related Dubai bank accounts. Joseph Muscat travelled with Schembri and Mizzi to Dubai in February 2016.  The following month, Muscat went back to Dubai alone.

Between 2018 and 2021, Muscat received €459,628 in deposits.  These included payments from Accutor Consulting AG and Spring X media, which, according to the inquiry, “appear to form part of a wider series of suspicious, usually round sum and monthly payments, received by Dr Muscat”.

The inquiry raises more serious issues.  Kamal Sharma, the previous director of Accutor AG, testified that Shaukat Ali informed him that Steward Healthcare US only owned 70% of Steward Healthcare International.  The remaining 30% was owned by Shaukat Ali and his hidden partners.

Sharma claimed that Mizzi, Schembri and Muscat were in the Vitals and Steward concession deals with Shaukat Ali and that €18 million per year was being paid to them from the concession.

Millions more were reaching Shaukat Ali and his friends through their hidden ownership of Technoline, the company bought for over €5 million of taxpayers’ money, revealed by The Shift in January 2019, and which was awarded exclusive procurer status for the three hospitals.

Muscat claims he is innocent. But he knew about all this from the start.

In May 2016, Shiv Nair sent Muscat an e-mail in “strictest confidence” warning him that Vitals had no track record in health and that VGH had serious problems finding investors.

Shiv Nair asked Muscat not to circulate the e-mail for fear of being sued by his UK partners.  Muscat forwarded it to Keith Schembri that same day.

Muscat already knew Vitals was just a scam.  A due diligence report sent to his office “raised questions about Bluestone’s financial health and Ram Tumuluri’s experience”.

“We can see no evidence and have little confidence that the Oxley group has the required funds available or has the relevant expertise to raise such funding for the Malta project,” the report stated.

Muscat knew Vitals didn’t have the expertise or the money but still pushed ahead. He kept defending Mizzi and Schembri. He protected Vitals despite its dismal failure.

He shielded Steward and then became their lobbyist when he was ousted. Now we know why.

Amid this torrent of grimy sleaze, Muscat is welcomed as ‘a hero’ to Valletta by Labour diehards for raising their pension by a couple of hundred euro.  Labour’s MEP candidates flock to seek his endorsement.

Robert Abela attacks the magistrate and her international experts while proclaiming Muscat’s innocence.  And Muscat flies abroad through the VIP lounge using his diplomatic passport.

                           

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6 Comments
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paul pullicino
paul pullicino
25 days ago

They found it so simple. They invented handouts using the public purse to make us think it’s their generosity while they set up these so called “private-public investment” projects with professional crooks from abroad who are passed millions from the same public purse part of which ends up in their Panama, Swiss or Dubai accounts. Even when all is exposed, the hardest thing is to admit to is having been fooled by them.

Jay Ho
Jay Ho
25 days ago

The saddest part of this whole sorry debacle is that I’m almost positive that despite 78 boxes of clear evidence, despite all of the obvious and stupid mistakes the robbers made, despite the arrogance and complicity of those not even named in the inquiry (RA you knew all along, you were a lawyer for the robbers) – they will never face justice.

A missing Policeman, an incompetent AG, and all the weights and measures already pre-stacked. Maybe like in Albania we really do need competent justice intervention in this country, as ours is sadly well and truly ruined.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
21 days ago
Reply to  Jay Ho

I’m afraid that many will escape justice by imposing self exile , where no justice can reach time. It will be a competition who will be the first one to do it.

Mick
Mick
25 days ago

Pretty precise as ever Kevin Prosit! Knowing your skills at investigating strange phenomenon, be grateful if you would cast your eye over this “Mega Court” business. Something stinks of that putrid smell that emanates from the Castille on a regular basis. I fully believe that what we are seeing is a Grand sideshow organised by the AG, Muscat ,the CoP and Mile End to give the appearance that justice is “working”. It has all been orchestrated to give the idea of movement in the hospital debacle. As someone clever once said “don’t confuse movement with progress” and it’s happening now even as I write, it’s obvious that nobody is going to be found guilty of anything through the shoddy, connived or real mistakes made by the AG and Police, if anything the AG will hand them massive compensation payments just in case they were at the lower end of the backhanders given out during the negotiations. I would bet my pension on it, the Public have been outflanked yet again.

Paul Borg
Paul Borg
24 days ago

Well and truly SHAFTED!
Every Maltese (except Joseph Muscat and his criminal gang) are feeling the pain and Joey is worried because he can’t pay his Netflix subscription.
DAQSEKK IHOBBA LIL-MALTA.

wenzu
wenzu
20 days ago

It appears that Dubai is becoming the de-facto centre for all the world’s crooks, thieves and bent politicians. what a reputation!

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