The awarding and implementation of public-private partnerships to date has raised serious suspicions of fraud and corruption, ADPD, the Green Party said.

Addressing a press conference outside St Luke’s hospital on Saturday, ADPD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said there is a need for sound regulation to ensure good governance in these types of projects.

The government failed to take action when alerted to problems, showing the “government had been party to this fraud all along”, he said in reaction to the court judgement regarding the government hospitals' concessions.

Following the sentence handed down by Judge Francesco Depasquale as well as the auditor general’s reports on the hospitals' concessions, all public contracts awarded during Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s tenure, in particular those involving Konrad Mizzi, Chris Cardona and Keith Schembri should be investigated thoroughly, ADPD deputy chairperson Sandra Gauci insisted.

Gauci referred to a media report some months ago that revealed substantial payments had been made to former prime minister Joseph Muscat by a foreign company close to Steward Health Care.

She said that the explanation offered by Muscat that these were payments for consultancy work were not credible and should be thoroughly investigated to uncover the “real truth”.

“The evidence coming out of the court last week is more than damning enough for them to be able to act. What are you waiting for?”, Gauci appealed to Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg and Commissioner of Police Angelo Gafa'.

Evidence presented in court relating to the hospitals’ concessions to Vitals Global Healthcare, later transferred to Steward Health Care, is a prime example of bad governance, said Cacopardo.

Suspicion of fraud and corruption have dominated the whole process since inception and the court confirmed this, he said.

The court decision in fact reaffirmed the conclusions detailed in two reports published by the auditor general in 2020 and 2021 which had revealed how Vitals Global Healthcare had presented a bank guarantee drawn up before the call had been made public – clear evidence of an underhanded agreement with this company.

The auditor general had stated that Vitals Global Healthcare should not even have been considered and indeed it should have been disqualified and its submissions ignored, yet the government ignored these recommendations.

Cacopardo said that in view of these underhanded moves and government inaction when problems were flagged it is questionable whether such public-private partnerships should even be considered especially for important areas such as health.

He went on to list other such projects that had raised considerable suspicion: the power station and the Saint Vincent de Paul residence project in Luqa, about which the auditor general had also drawn up voluminous reports.

The absence of sound regulation to ensure good governance from the inception of a project to delivery has led to “confusion, fraud and corruption,” concluded Cacopardo.


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