Projects Malta dished out €667,055 worth of contracts and direct orders over three years to three firms closely linked to former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi.

Mizzi was responsible for Projects Malta between 2014 and 2019, during which time the government entity took the lead on the controversial Vitals Global Healthcare hospitals deal as well as the ITS land sale to db Group.

Mifsud Bonnici Advocates, run by Mizzi’s personal lawyer Aron Mifsud Bonnici, received €299,100 worth of direct orders and contracts between July 2016 and December 2019, an analysis of Government Gazette data shows.

Despite Projects Malta being legally obliged to publish a list of all direct orders within six months of them being granted, direct orders dished out in 2018 were only published in the Government Gazette this year.

Mifsud Bonnici was a Projects Malta director between 2014 and 2015 and its board secretary between 2014 and 2018.

One other beneficiary of Projects Malta’s budget was Beat Ltd, run by David Galea, a close friend of Mizzi.

Beat Ltd received €195,230 worth of contracts from Projects Malta, including for “generic project management service”.

The auditor general this year was unable to find evidence of whether Beat had actually done the work Projects Malta paid it for in relation to a €64,000 contract to manage the relocation of the ITS campus from Pembroke to Smart City.

Another top beneficiary of Projects Malta’s spending over the years was Nexia BT, the consultancy firm that set up companies in Panama for Mizzi and former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Nexia BT was given €172,725 worth of contracts and direct orders from Projects Malta over a three-year period.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna has criticised Projects Malta as being opaque, even though his own permanent secretary Alfred Camilleri sat on its board.

Camilleri recently told the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder that direct orders under €139,000 were approved by the minister or his delegate, then moved on to the finance ministry for clearance.

According to public procurement rules, direct orders should only be resorted to in “exceptional circumstances”.

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