It was eight years ago, to the day, that Daphne Caruana Galizia first revealed that the Labour government had already met and struck a deal with Oxley Capital Group for the concession of three hospitals: the one in Gozo, Karin Grech and St Luke’s.

The fake expression of interest for the concession had not even been issued and Labour had already met and agreed with the investors who would later be the major beneficial owners of a new company with no experience in health: Vitals Global Healthcare.

This was later confirmed by the auditor general who, in July 2020, had found “collusive behaviour” between the Labour government and Vitals.

The court has now confirmed that this concession was fraudulent in all its stages: since before its inception, during the contract and also when Steward stepped in to replace Vitals, in what Health Minister Chris Fearne famously described as the “real deal”. His “real deal” was also found to be fraudulent.

Robert Abela’s strategy since the court judgment has been to play the victim. To claim that the fraudsters were only on one side of the concession. That his government was only a victim of the fraud and not part of it.

May I remind readers that the court case was Adrian Delia vs Prime Minister Robert Abela and Vitals/Steward. Abela was not a spectator. He was a defendant, on the side of the fraudsters. And the court ruled against him.

It beggars belief that those who have been ruled against by the court, and who have already been determined to have been part of this “collusive behaviour”, not only try to play victim but have the audacity to blame the opposition for the situation.

It is true that the court sentence does not say that the government committed the fraud. The civil court’s remit was not to determine who committed the crime but to determine the validity of the contracts, which it annulled.

It will be up to the police to investigate who committed the fraud.

But the sentence does say that the court is “concerned” that the government consciously put so much “onerous terms” on itself and “wants to believe this was possibly the result of naivety, if not pressure to keep the original project viable”.

Only Abela can answer what made the government take such illogical decisions. Whatever the case, it means this government can never really act in Malta’s and the people’s interests. Either because it is stupid or because it is blackmailed.

These are not mistakes. These are criminal plans- Mark Anthony Sammut

What we know for certain is that this is not the first time this pattern has emerged. This is a repeat of the Electrogas/tanker contract.

Steward Health Care, found to have been defrauding our country, had flown €3.6 million of their contract’s “undue enrichment” to Accutor, a company which then starts transferring €15,000 a month to disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat.

Where did we see that before?

Ah, yes. Bumi Armada getting €360 million cash-in-advance for the 18-year lease of a scrapped tanker. Millions of which flow to its agent’s companies Orion Engineering and EN3 projects, from where hundreds of thousands of euros flow to Wings Investment and 17 Black, two secret companies owned by Yorgen Fenech. Companies which were found to have been declared as the target clients that had to transfer €5,000 daily to Konrad Mizzi’s and Keith Schembri’s secret Panama companies.

These are not mistakes. These are criminal plans executed by criminals in power. It was not a road map for Malta. It was a retirement plan for the few.

And Abela has been found to still be on the side of the criminals and the fraudsters. Unable to act and unwilling to challenge his masters. Continuity indeed. That is the one promise he has managed to keep.

On the other hand, we remain on the side of the people. The Nationalist Party will not yield until the people get their money back and political responsibility is shouldered.

And we will persevere until the crime syndicate that has taken hold of our country comes crashing down to its inevitable oblivion.

Mark Anthony Sammut is PN spokesperson on energy and enterprise and president of the PN general council.

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