“I am not afraid of anything,” Joseph Muscat declared as he quivered visibly. “I have no problem with any investigation,” he stated unconvincingly, his face flushed, forehead veins distended.
Muscat was cornered by his nemesis, Times of Malta reporter Jacob Borg. Borg knew where to find him – at the Sa Maison offices provided by his former consultant, Robert Abela at taxpayers’ cost. After years of waiting, the courts finally annulled Muscat’s filthiest deal. The court’s sentence was crushing, the judge’s comments brutal. The whole deal was annulled due to fraud, Borg pointed out to Muscat.
Muscat was back to his belligerent obnoxiousness, his default tactic when cornered. He was nit-picking. “Civil fraud,” Muscat clarified. “Maybe you could look up its definition,” he commented sarcastically, eyes blazing.
The only difference between civil and criminal fraud is that, in the first, the victim pursues the fraudster, while in the second, the police or attorney general prosecute. In the first, the victim provides proof of fraud. In the second, the police do. The only reason why Muscat hasn’t faced criminal fraud charges is because the police and the AG are mere puppets of the Labour government.
In civil fraud, compensation is awarded, assets returned, or damages paid. In criminal fraud, the guilty fraudster is jailed. Muscat is simply wiping our face in it. He’s triumphantly pointing out that he’s immune, that neither the police nor the AG will charge him despite the overwhelming evidence. He’s relishing the fact that police inaction left only the civil route open – which means the perpetrators won’t face jail.
Muscat was on the back foot. He lost his magic touch. In his agitation, he was making mistakes. “Every decision taken was endorsed by cabinet,” he lied. That’s just total bull.
The NAO’s second report on the Vitals scandal couldn’t be clearer: “Government’s failure to refer important contractual changes to cabinet was a recurring shortcoming”.
It listed repeated episodes where cabinet was completely bypassed or only consulted after Konrad Mizzi had waived Vitals’s obligations.
“Graver still was that the government’s representatives were systematically granting waivers to VGH of the requirement to secure financing without prior referral to cabinet.”
“In a consistent manner, the Hon. Konrad Mizzi first entered into agreements or commitments with VGH to extend financial close, then sought cabinet’s approval.”
“The government’s representatives, while bypassing cabinet, endorsed multiple waivers… thereby perpetuating the failure that this concession came to represent.”
Muscat is wrong.
And he knows it.
“There was the comfort of legal advice,” he insisted, as he tried to deflect guilt. Muscat was tripping himself up again. The NAO report stated that, on March 9, 2016, the AG provided advice to the prime minister, Muscat, in relation to transfer of sites to Vitals. But, despite requests to OPM, the NAO was informed that the advice sought could not be traced. Muscat’s pathetic attempt to shield himself was blown away. There is only one possible reason why the AG’s advice was ‘lost’ – because the AG advised against proceeding with the transfer. But Muscat went ahead anyway.
Muscat was challenged about the tens of thousands of euros he received from Accutor AG.
After years of waiting, the courts finally annulled Joseph Muscat’s filthiest deal– Kevin Cassar
“I received payment for legitimate work I did,” he rebutted. But Muscat received his first €15,000 monthly payment just weeks after he resigned. How is it even possible that, so soon after stepping down, he had managed to strike a deal with the Swiss firm, agree and sign a contract and complete enough work to be paid €15,000?
Accutor was paid €2.49 million by Steward Health Care on the very day that Steward took over from Vitals. It would be paid another €1.11 million. Accutor dished out tens of thousands not only to Muscat but to Vitals director Ram Tumuluri, to Shaukat Ali and his son, Asad. Accutor AG was owned by Wasay Bhatti, who Yorgen Fenech consulted, on the advice of Keith Schembri, to help him set up discreet structures to move money out of the Ajman region, where 17-Black was registered.
Muscat signed an indefinite contract that would see him earn €15,000 per month. He received €60,000 by summer 2020, when Accutor AG declared bankruptcy.
“What proof is there that your work was legitimate,” Borg asked Muscat. Muscat was back to sardonic form. “I gave it to the magistrate but you appear to know well what was said to the magistrate, so I invite you to ask her.” Muscat won’t show us the proof. “If you know everything…,” he went on.
In a Facebook post, Muscat reacted to the damning court sentence: “I always acted in the interests of the people and people of goodwill know this.”
The judge disagreed: “No person having the country’s good at heart would ever enter into such a deal.”
“Doubts about the good faith of the concessionaire should have been flagged by all those responsible in government, including Dr Konrad Mizzi,” Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale commented. Instead, Mizzi “introduced changes only to the benefit of Vitals and certainly not the people”. Mizzi wasn’t working alone. He was led by Muscat, who is responsible for the devastation done to our health service and the country.
Muscat surely didn’t have the people’s interest at heart when he “deliberately hid concessions milestones” when the Vitals deal was presented in parliament. He didn’t want us to know that Vitals was missing all its targets. He wanted to dupe the nation into believing this was a brilliant deal.
All those empty promises – a new St Luke’s Hospital, a better, bigger Karin Grech Hospital, a new Gozo General Hospital, more jobs, more beds, medical tourism – were just a scam. And the court left no doubt about the fraud behind the lies: “All projects were never completed and some were not even started.” Medical tourism was “part of the fraudulent plot”.
Muscat hid the truth, while millions drained out of the nation’s coffers and Tumuluri escaped. Muscat’s fraud is finally exposed. The proof, his loyal fans demanded, is crushing. No wonder Muscat’s panicking.
Kevin Cassar is a professor of surgery.
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