UPDATED: Pakistani family accused of taking millions from Malta taxpayers

Family members are being arraigned in court today after the inquiry found they took at least €15 million from government funds for the hospitals concession

 

Aqra bil-Malti

When the concession for the management of three of Malta’s public hospitals was awarded, the bank accounts in Dubai controlled by the family of Pakistani Shaukat Ali Abdul Ghafoor immediately received $5 million. Members of the family appeared in court today.

Investigators found that the money, received as a “success fee”, was only the tip of the iceberg. The hospitals inquiry found evidence the family took some €15 million, and possibly more, since the funds from Maltese taxpayers diverted to their accounts in secretive jurisdictions were difficult to trace.

“That award also opened the floodgates to multiple other diversions of concession funds to the Ali family, most of which also flowed to secrecy jurisdictions where the ultimate beneficiaries are yet to be uncovered,” the inquiry states.

The money transfers traced by investigators in the hospitals inquiry confirm press reports in the past year that taxpayer money also flowed into the bank accounts of Shaukat Ali’s two wives Aasia Parveen and Fakhra Ali, his sons Asad and Wajid, and his “honorary daughter” Saba Binte Abbas.

“We consider, to all intents and purposes, they acted as a unit,” investigators conclude.

Shaukat Ali (centre) and his sons Asad (right) and Wajid (left).

In 2019, The Shift was already reporting about Shaukat Ali’s involvement in shaping the deal.

Seen as ‘the brains behind the deal’, the inquiry concluded that Shaukat Ali worked with then-OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, using “puppets” to act as fronts in various companies and roles set up to reap personal profits from what should have been a deal to manage three of Malta’s public hospitals.

“Where you find Shaukat Ali, you also find Keith Schembri,” the report states.

Even as they siphoned funds, the hospitals were left abandoned. The inquiry concludes that the deal meant nothing more to those involved than a quick sale and a high return.

Footage captured by reporters in January 2023 shows that large parts of St. Luke’s Hospital still lie in disrepair. Photo: OCCRP / Daphne Foundation.

“Shaukat himself has a lengthy track record of corrupt involvement with top government officials and, immediately prior to moving to Malta, his family were involved at the highest levels of Colonel Gaddafi’s notoriously corrupt regime in Libya, working with the healthcare systems there,” the inquiry confirms.

It adds that “Shaukat Ali was treated as and referred to by VGH / Steward Healthcare CEO Armin Ernst as ‘the major shareholder’ even though he never appeared as the Ultimate Beneficial Owner on paper”.

Press investigations have shown that money transferred by the Maltese government to the concession partners was swiftly transferred to the hidden partners.

On top of the estimated €15 million in personal transfers for fake consultancies found by investigators, taxpayer money was also used to buy companies providing medical services to the hospitals, increasing their personal profits.

The inquiry reveals how they used complex offshore structures to hide the owners of companies fronted by “puppets” who included Ivan Vassallo, Ram Tumuluri, Mark Pawley, and Adrian Hillman. Hillman was far more deeply embedded in Keith Schembri’s “nefarious deals” than previously thought.

The inquiry’s findings also confirm press investigations showing that Schembri, as well as former minister Konrad Mizzi and disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat, also profited from the deal.

Shaukat Ali told Kamal Sharma (a former director of Accutor AG, the entity that was sending payments to Joseph Muscat) that Mizzi, Schembri and Muscat were in the concession deal with both VGH and Steward, and that €18 million a year was going to that group from the concession, the inquiry report states.

Shaukat Ali Abdul Ghafoor Tigne

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

Ram Tumuluri is one of “the puppets” mentioned in the inquiry. “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 Schembri,” investigators conclude.

In a collaborative investigation between OCCRP, The Shift and The Times of Malta, Tumuluri had stated that he was forced as the Head of VGH to transfer the deal to Steward Healthcare for a pittance.

Millions of euro were paid to Tumuluri and Mark Pawley, although investigators think it is probable they must have been obliged to pass on a substantial proportion of these sums to others.

“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,” the inquiry states.

The inquiry notes that disgraced former European Commissioner John Dalli had been linked to political corruption over decades, and that he was active in Libya during the final decade of the Gaddafi regime — at the same time Shaukat Ali was resident in Libya and working hand in hand with the regime.

“There are business links between the Ali and Dalli families going back to 2009 when Asad Ali, the son of Shaukat, was a shareholder in a company controlled by John Dalli’s daughters, Louisa Dalli and Claire Gauci Borda. We suspect that Shaukat Ali was introduced to Malta and Maltese politicians through John Dalli.”

On Monday, the court found enough evidence to proceed against Shaukat’s son Asad. Today, the court found there was enough evidence to charge Shaukat Ali with corruption, money laundering, and other crimes in connection with the hospitals deal.

The court imposed an asset freeze of Shaukat Ali and Aasia Parveen’s assets and forbade the two from discussing the case or its details in public.

                           

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James Major
James Major
13 days ago

Good luck to the Maltese. Look at what a wonderful import you have had for citizenship. This is just the start! They are not bothered just like JM they are laughing at the MALTESE taxpayers.

Alfred Debono
Alfred Debono
13 days ago

The real real deal

Judy S
Judy S
13 days ago
Reply to  Alfred Debono

After the real deal we need a real heal

S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
12 days ago
Reply to  Judy S

We will only get that by real justice.

Joseph
Joseph
12 days ago

I don’t know what PL supporters are made of, if I was one, by now, I would have gone in front of the nearest PL club, ripped my membership card and throw it at them. Furthermore, I would never ever support the Pl ever again and feel great shame for having ever trusted them! By blood boils at what I keep hearing, imagine if I actually helped vote them in!

S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
12 days ago
Reply to  Joseph

I’m glad to hear that your blood boils at what you hear: it gives me hope that some still have a conscience and wish this country well.

Luciano Borg
Luciano Borg
12 days ago
Reply to  Joseph

Did you forget that when the Panama scandal surfaced, hundreds lined up the streets and clapped as Keith and Mizzi walked by? Showing their full support for their corruption? What a shame 🙏

Louise
Louise
8 days ago
Reply to  Luciano Borg

They didn’t show their support to those two they were actually showing their complete ignorance of what had been happening. It’s easy to believe this because their media never mentioned anything that was happening and TVM were very sketchy without showing any great importance. No wonder they were called HAHA

Charles
Charles
12 days ago

And with so many millions stolen from Maltese taxpayers, why aren’t these crooks locked up! The amazing thing is that they are allowed to travel out of Malta provided they deposit euro30,000 and let the authorities know of their intention to travel! What a stupid decision by the Court Jester of the Laugh Court! They are accused of stealing millions… so soon they will disappear !

Maria Azzopardi
Maria Azzopardi
12 days ago
Reply to  Charles

Eur 30, 000 is bloody LOOSE CHANGE for these LEECHES! What a ridiculous amount 😱

S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
12 days ago
Reply to  Charles

That is all the result of the most shocking conduct of the prosecution “authorities” (the Police Commissioner and the AG) who chose not to arraign the culprits under arrest so that proper and more effective bail conditions could be imposed: instead, a diplomatic passport was handed out to allow for free movement in and out of Malta, free office space from where you can continue to work on your devious schemes, and free communication facilities to allow you to interfere with witnesses undisturbed and at no cost.

Michael A
Michael A
12 days ago
Reply to  Charles

not really….he has his 2m+ Euro flat in Tigne so for now he would rather stick around than be fugitive. He will escape only when the court case reaches a climax in 5 years and he sees no way of avoiding jail. Keep in mind the case is unlikely to produce results with all the technicalities that could hinder justice

S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
12 days ago

I have run out of adjectives to describe the egregiousness of this filth.

David
David
7 days ago
Reply to  S. Camilleri

So have I
..

jingo
jingo
12 days ago

And he was good friends with?….None other than your beloved John Dalli. Who introduced them?

Michael A
Michael A
12 days ago

No wonder John Dalli told lovin Malta while walking out of Valletta last month that he will open a case against Republika for the ‘pastazati” (rudeness). He must have been really irked to see the hospital house of cards collapse and have his name exposed once again for the crooked deals he is always involved in

Joseph Ellul-Grech
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael A

I have been saying that John Dalli is corrupt since 1998 and so is his immediate family. They are CROOKS. He framed me because I reported his involvement in the Daewoo scandal.

I wrote several open letters to the current and former PMs and Police commissioners requesting an impartial investigation into John Dalli’s dealings and my frame-up. It all fell on deaf ears. Allegedly JM and his crooked team syphoned millions from the Maltese taxpayers. Maltese politics are corrupt to the core. Where there is corruption there is John Dalli.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
12 days ago

The politicians involved in this unprecedented scandal where they’ve betrayed their nation to the bone should be charged for treason! What they did is simply an act against the Maltese and acting against the interest of the Maltese people is treason. Unfortunately this is the truth and reality of a labour government in absolute power.

IMQAZZIN
IMQAZZIN
12 days ago

Mhux talli imqazzin, imma imdardrin u mqallajn! Kif kellhom il wicc u l-istonku????

carlos
7 days ago

Not only the matese people of trust are gaining from corruption but now also indians,azeris and pakis stealing from the Maltese – thanks to the MOST CORRUPT MUVUMENT led by two of the most corrupt pms Malta ever had.
MAFIAMALTA MINGHAJR EBDA TAMA’.

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