For the first time in Maltese history, a former prime minister is to face criminal charges.

Joseph Muscat will appear before a magistrate to answer charges of money laundering, corruption, bribery and setting up a criminal association, among others.

Those charges relate to the 2017 deal that the Muscat government sealed with Vitals Global Healthcare to run three state hospitals. 

If found guilty, he, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi could face up to 18 years in prison. But they are not the only ones to be charged with serious crimes.

There are another 11 individuals and eight companies that stand accused of money laundering and other major crimes. 

And then there's a second group of 14 individuals and two companies that will be charged with secondary offences. That group includes Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, Central Bank governor Edward Scicluna and top civil servants. 

Here is a complete list of the politicians, lawyers, accountants, civil servants and entrepreneurs who are expected to appear as criminal suspects before Magistrate Rachel Montebello in the coming weeks.

The numbers next to their names below correspond to their number on this photo. Photo edit: Karl Andrew Micallef, Bertrand BorgThe numbers next to their names below correspond to their number on this photo. Photo edit: Karl Andrew Micallef, Bertrand Borg

Joseph Muscat (1)

Former prime minister

Joseph Muscat has vowed to fight and win the legal battle. Photo: Matthew MirabelliJoseph Muscat has vowed to fight and win the legal battle. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

It all happened on his watch.

The fraudulent hospitals deal was conceived, negotiated and awarded under Muscat's stewardship. The lucrative contract went to Vitals Global Healthcare - a company that had no prior experience in healthcare and which the National Audit Office subsequently concluded should have never been allowed to bid for the deal. 

Muscat is suspected of having been directly involved in wrongdoing, however. His house was searched by the police two years ago. And prosecutors believe he took kickbacks from the deal.

They have now charged him with a list of crimes that include money laundering, bribery and trading in influence.

Muscat denies any wrongdoing and says the charges are an "abomination". 

Meanwhile, prosecutors have filed a freezing order against his assets up to a maximum of €30 million.

Konrad Mizzi (2)

Minister responsible for deal

Konrad Mizzi is no stranger to controversy. File photoKonrad Mizzi is no stranger to controversy. File photo

Mizzi spearheaded the deal.

He has previously been singled out by a judge for taking the lead on the suspicious contract, and for illogically accommodating Vitals even when they failed to meet their contractual obligations.

Most controversially, he signed an infamous deal with Steward Health Care, which took over the deal from Vitals, that obliged the government to fork out €100 million if the hospitals contract was annulled.

A court annulled the entire deal, including that side agreement, last year. But Steward, which is now going through massive bankruptcy proceedings in the US, is still fighting for that cut.

It is the latest controversy in Mizzi's long list of political lows, ranging from his Panama Papers offshore scandal to controversy over the Electrogas power station and allegations of kickbacks concerning a wind farm in Montenegro

Mizzi has been out of sight for months and has not reacted to the news that he will be charged.

Together with Muscat and Schembri, Mizzi stands accused of money laundering, bribery, trading in influence and setting up a criminal association.

Like Muscat, he is the subject of a freezing order of up to €30 million.

Keith Schembri (3)

Former OPM chief of staff

Keith Schembri seldom comments in public and is yet to react to the news that he is being charged. Photo: Matthew MirabelliKeith Schembri seldom comments in public and is yet to react to the news that he is being charged. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The former OPM strongman has loomed large over most government deals linked to corruption.

Schembri seldom comments publicly and is yet to react to the news that he will be charged.

He previously said his only role in the hospitals deal was to make a room at the prime minister’s office available for the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the government and Vitals investors.

Court filings by Steward suggest he played a much more significant role, however, and those suspicions are given additional fuel by the charges prosecutors have filed against him. 

Schembri stands accused of money laundering, bribery, trading in influence, setting up a criminal organisation with Muscat and Mizzi, and is also separately charged with having sought personal advantages he was not entitled to, and of having made unlawful or excessive claims.

The charges also allege Schembri took a private interest in an adjudication or contract, resulting in fraud to the detriment of the government.

Up to €30 million in his assets have been frozen as a result of the case.

Prosecutors have also linked Schembri to three companies that they have also filed criminal charges against separately: Sciacca Grill Ltd, Kasco Engineering Company Limited and FSV Limited. 

On Tuesday, the owner of Sciacca Grill told Times of Malta that Schembri has nothing to do with his business.

It is the second major criminal case that Schembri faces: he is already pleading not guilty to similar charges of money laundering and corruption in a separate case

Christopher Spiteri (10)

Vitals auditor

Christopher SpiteriChristopher Spiteri

Spiteri audited Vitals' accounts.

In 2017, just one year into the hospitals concession, he warned that there was "significant doubt" about the company's ability to function as its liabilities exceeded its assets by €27 million.

That year, the company paid out €7 million in directors’ fees. 

Spiteri is among those to face the longest list of criminal charges. 

Apart from money laundering charges, he is also alleged to have filed false declarations and taken false oaths, formed part of a criminal association, facilitated trading in influence for Muscat, Mizzi and Schembri, divulged confidential material and under-declared income made by Vitals investors such as Shaukat Ali Chaudary and others.  

He is the the subject of a freezing order against his assets up to a maximum of €30 million.

David Meli (6)


David MeliDavid Meli

Meli served as a legal representative for Steward, which took over the hospitals deal for Vitals, and prosecutors allege that he served as a go-between between the company and Muscat, Mizzi and Schembri and bribed them.

Other charges include money laundering, using false documents, being involved in a criminal association and making false declarations. Meli has been hit with the single-largest freezing order of €32 million. 

Prosecutors have also cited Meli as a representative of MTrace Plc, which is also listed as one of the defendants facing criminal charges. Another defendant, Brian Bondin (see below) is also linked to MTrace.

Jonathan Vella (not pictured)

Lawyer for Bluestone Investments

Relatively little is known about Vella, other than the fact he served as a legal representative for Vitals' parent company Bluestone Investments Malta Limited.

In 2022, Times of Malta had revealed how Vitals regularly transferred millions of euros to Bluestone hours or days after receiving large payments from the Maltese government. Those payments were intended to run state hospitals.  

Over €21 million was transferred from Vitals to Bluestone between 2016 and the first two months of 2018.

Swiss accounting records show Bluestone would go on to pay around €300,000 to Accutor AG, the same Swiss firm linked to suspect transactions with former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Accutor also received millions from Steward as part of the deal to buy out the concession from Vitals.

Bluestone's ownership was layered behind a company in the British Virgin Islands.

Vella stands accused of money laundering, making false declarations, criminal association and making use of false documents, among other things.

Up to €30m of his assets have been frozen as a result of the case. 

Adrian Hillman (19)


Adrian Hillman.Adrian Hillman.

It remains unclear what role Hillman, a former managing director of Allied Newspapers, is alleged to have played in the hospitals deal.

Hillman was one of several people exposed by the Panama Papers to have set up secret offshore structures and is already facing criminal charges alongside Keith Schembri in another case. He and Schembri are alleged to have defrauded Allied's sister company Progress Press of millions by overpaying for a printing press it bought off Schembri's company, Kasco.

In this case, prosecutors say Hillman committed money laundering, used false documents to commit a crime, and formed part of a criminal association

Like the other allegedly major players, he is the subject of a €30 million asset freezing order. 

Pierre Sladden (20)


Pierre SladdenPierre Sladden

Sladden is another person whose name was previously not linked to the hospitals deal and we still do not know how prosecutors believe he profited from the deal.

He is known to have been close to Keith Schembri as well as Ivan Vassallo, another of the individuals indicted by prosecutors. 

Sladden faces charges of money laundering, using false documents and criminal association. Up to €30 million of his assets have been frozen. 

Brian Tonna (4) and Karl Cini (5)


Brian TonnaBrian Tonna

Tonna and Cini are former partners at the now-defunct accountancy firm Nexia BT, which shut down after being racked by scandal

The two men and Nexia BT first hit the headlines in 2016 after the Panama Papers leak revealed that they set up secretive offshore structures for Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi. 

Tonna and Cini also featured heavily in the inquiry into the offshore company Egrant, which was cited in Panama Papers-leaked documents. 

That inquiry found that Cini “created” documents to back assertions that the mystery Panama company Egrant was owned by his boss and Nexia BT partner, Brian Tonna. 

Karl CiniKarl Cini

But while the inquiry recommended that Cini be criminally charged, prosecutors opted not to do so. 

In January last year, they were struck off the Malta Financial Services Authority  register, meaning they have been banned from holding new positions in any registered firm, including being shareholders.

They already face charges over money laundering and falsifying documents, among others, in prosecutions sparked by inquiries into alleged corruption by Keith Schembri.

They will now also be charged with allegedly having helped Muscat, Schembri and Mizzi commit their crimes, using false documents and criminal association.

Both face asset freeze orders targeting up to €20 million of their assets. 

Ivan Vassallo (12)


Ivan VassalloIvan Vassallo

Vassallo faces charges of major crimes both personally and as a representative of his companies Technoline, Eurabytes Ltd and Gateway Solutions Ltd. Those companies also face charges. He has been hit with a freezing order of €11 million.

Technoline - which was itself a supplier of medical equipment - was in the privileged position of managing the procurement of all medical supplies for Vitals. Vassallo bought the company months before it got that contract and the deal is suspected to have been financed by the people behind Vitals. 

In the first 10 months of 2022, Technoline was handed €824,000 in direct orders between January and October, more than any other company in Malta during the same period.

Apart from money laundering, Vassallo also stands accused of having used false documents, criminal association, and making false declarations.

He is the subject of an asset freezing order totalling €11 million. 

Three companies linked to Vassallo - Technoline Ltd, Eurabytes Limited and Gateway Solutions Limited - are also cited as defendants in the case. 

Brian Bondin (17)


Brian BondinBrian Bondin

Bondin has been hit with a freezing order of €12 million and faces charges both in a personal capacity and in his role as director of Mtrace p.l.c, which also faces charges.  

In 2019, an investigation by The Shift News revealed that Mtrace, the company supplying cancer treatment and diagnosis equipment, had been bought out by Vitals for €2 million, with the company intending to make money off the back of cancer medication by selling it at a 25% markup.  

Bondin stands accused of money laundering, making false declarations and making use of false documents

Mario Victor Gatt (not pictured) 


Little is known about Gatt or his involvement, save that prosecutors allege that he used false documents, was part of a criminal association and made false declarations

He faces those charges in both his personal capacity and as a representative of Technoline and Eurybates Ltd, which are also cited as defendants. He has been hit with a €7 million freezing order.

Clarence John Conger-Thompson (not pictured)

IT manager

Conger-Thompson was Steward Healthcare Malta’s IT manager. He is facing charges related to money laundering, bribery, using false documents and criminal association.

Taomac Limited


Prosecutors have also filed criminal charges against various companies linked to individuals who are facing charges. But Taomac Limited, which The Shift News has previously reported owned MTrace Plc before selling it off, is slightly different. 

Nobody linked to the company has been cited in criminal charges and the company has been hit with a relatively minuscule freezing order when compared to the rest - one of just €62,500.  

A second group of indictees also face charges in relation to the hospitals deal. They include Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, Central Bank Governor Edward Scicluna, top civil servants and lawyers. 

While these people are not alleged to have taken bribes or traded in influence, they still face serious criminal charges. 

Chris Fearne (23)

Deputy Prime Minister and former health minister

Chris FearneChris Fearne

Fearne was Joseph Muscat's number two and retained that position under Robert Abela.

Of all the people who will be charged, he holds the highest public office.

Fearne was also the health minister overseeing the deal until it was annulled last year.

Despite once famously describing Steward as “the real deal” when it took over the hospitals concessions from Vitals, the deputy PM later revealed the company had been running parallel talks with Mizzi and Muscat’s office while engaged in negotiations with the Health Ministry.

Fearne repeatedly claimed he was kept in the dark throughout the negotiations and had only learned of the concession being transferred to Steward from media reports.

Last year, he told the auditor general that he had “expressed his dissatisfaction” with the work carried out by Vitals in the months leading to the concession.

He is to face charges of fraud, misappropriation and fraudulent gain.

Following a long and illustrious term as health minister, he was waiting to succeed Helena Dalli as Malta’s next European commissioner, and Robert Abela has already vowed to go ahead with his nomination despite the charges.

But the situation will likely impact his prospects for the posts, as he must be approved by MEPs before being appointed an EU Commissioner. 

Fearne said on Wednesday that he has yet to be notified of charges against him. 

Edward Scicluna (22)

Central Bank governor and former finance minister

Edward SciclunaEdward Scicluna

Scicluna was the finance minister when the deal was negotiated and concluded, and served that post throughout most of the concession period.

Testifying in court in 2020, however, he said he had very little oversight on what was going on.

He said he and his ministry were peripheral to the hospital privatisation project as it was being put together. He recalled Konrad Mizzi’s ministry presenting an outline of the project at Castille in March 2016, but said the presentation was sparse on details, and that by that time, a number of agreements concerning the concession deal had already been concluded.

He said his ministry did not enter into the merits of the decision to award the contract to Vitals. Scicluna also claimed he did not know that the government had signed a clause that obliged it to pay Steward €100 million if the deal was stopped.

It remains unclear, therefore, what wrongdoing the inquiry found on his part, because it has been kept under wraps.

But he is also to face charges of fraud, misappropriation and fraudulent gain.

Scicluna is yet to react to the charges and despite several calls for him to resign, he still holds his role.

It is not just his role of Central Bank governor that he must grapple with, however. He also holds a seat on the European Central Bank’s (ECB) governing council, alongside central bank governors from around Europe.

That seat means that he has “a special responsibility to maintain the integrity and reputation of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and the European Central Bank (ECB)”, according to the ECB’s code of conduct.

Ronald Mizzi (8)

Konrad Mizzi's former permanent secretary

Ronald MizziRonald Mizzi

He was the top civil servant under Konrad Mizzi at the time when the deal was conceived, negotiated and awarded to Vitals.

He had Konrad Mizzi's trust, as he followed him to the Tourism Ministry, when the minister was reassigned to that portfolio.

Ronald Mizzi is still a permanent secretary to this day, only now he serves in Silvio Schembri's economy ministry.

Every permanent secretary is considered the servant of the state, not the minister, meaning he is the officer responsible for seeing that the ministry is making the best use of resources in the best possible interest of the state.

The permanent secretary is not a person of trust and retains their position even when ministers change, to be able to provide permanent, consistent leadership that seeks the interest of the people before that of any governing political party.

He will be charged with fraud amounting to over €5,000, having made fraudulent gains and misappropriation. He will also be charged with having committed crimes he was duty-bound to prevent.

In an auditor general's report on the hospitals deal, he was already identified as being partly responsible for the governance failures.

But in court he claimed not to have been involved in the talks leading to the €100 million agreement, saying he only learned about it from a cabinet memo distributed by Konrad Mizzi.

Alfred Camilleri (15)

Former finance permanent secretary

Alfred CamilleriAlfred Camilleri

Camilleri was the finance ministry's permanent secretary when the deal was negotiated and awarded, and throughout most of the concession period.

He is widely known in political circles as one of the most loyal and respected civil servants in modern history.

He served as the finance ministry's permanent secretary for 16 years, from 2006 until June 2022 when he retired - spanning a career during which he worked under both Nationalist and Labour administrations.

Again, the specifics of his alleged wrongdoing remain unknown as long as the inquiry remains under wraps, but he too, will face charges as serious as the other civil servants - meaning fraud, having made fraudulent gains, misappropriation and having committed crimes he was duty-bound to prevent.

Prime Minister Robert Abela has alluded to Camilleri's prosecution as evidence that the magisterial inquiry into the deal was unfair. Camilleri's only sin, Abela claimed, appears to be that he "worked under Labour". 

Joseph Rapa (13)

Former health permanent secretary

Joseph RapaJoseph Rapa

Rapa led Chris Fearne's health ministry as its top civil servant between March 2013 and May 2022, spanning the period of negotiations with Vitals and Steward and throughout the concession period.

His charges are identical to the other permanent secretaries - Alfred Camilleri and Ronald Mizzi - meaning he is charged with fraud, having made fraudulent gains and misappropriation. He will also be charged with having committed crimes he was duty-bound to prevent.

Kenneth Deguara (18)

Financial controller

Kenneth DeguaraKenneth Deguara

Deguara is the Chief Financial Officer of DF Advocates - a law firm that served as legal advisers to Vitals as well its medical supplier Technoline.

Both companies - DF Advocates and Technoline - are also being charged in court. And so is the sister company of DF Advocates - DF Corporate Advisory.

He will answer to charges of document fraud, including documents related to VAT, as well as money laundering.

Kevin Deguara (9)


Kevin DeguaraKevin Deguara

Deguara is a lawyer and the founding partner of DF Advocates, the law firm that provided legal counsel to Vitals and Technoline.

The law firm was raided by police in connection with the Vitals investigation in September 2021.

In a statement issued back then, the firm had refuted suggestions that it or any of its lawyers were being targeted for investigation by the magisterial inquiry.

The magistrate and prosecutors appear to disagree, however. 

The firm’s founding partners, one of whom is Deguara, are being charged not only as representatives of their firm, but also personally.

Deguara will also face money laundering charges and of having actively participated in a criminal activity and criminal association.

Deguara's law firm, DF Advocates, and its sister firm DF Corporate Advisory Limited are also cited as defendants in the case.

Jean Carl Farrugia (11)


Jean Carl FarrugiaJean Carl Farrugia

Farrugia is also a lawyer and a founding partner of DF Advocates.

The law firm provides advice to local and international companies on day-to-day operations, local and cross-border transactions and other corporate issues in the financial services, gaming, aviation, yachting, shipping, citizenship and residency, real estate, litigation and dispute resolution, according to their website.

Like his business partner Kevin Deguara, Farrugia will be charged with money laundering, having actively participated in a criminal activity and criminal association.

Deborah Anne Chappell (21)


Deborah Anne ChappellDeborah Anne Chappell

Chappell served as Vitals' in-house legal counsel and is among those who will face the most charges. 

Like the Deguaras and Jean Carl Farrugia, she stands accused of money laundering, and like Fearne, Scicluna and the three permanent secretaries, she will face charges of misappropriation.

She will also need to answer to charges of document fraud, including documents related to VAT and of having actively participated in a criminal activity and criminal association.

Chappell, who is the only woman to be charged by prosecutors in connection with the case so far, is also the subject of the single-largest freezing order filed. Up to €42 million in her assets have been frozen. 

Bradley Gatt (not pictured)


Gatt is a corporate lawyer who worked with DF Advocates, the legal firm engaged by Vitals when the company came to Malta. He has since moved on to another legal practice.

Little is known about Gatt and his direct involvement in the hospitals deal, but he appears to be a peripheral part of the alleged criminal conspiracy. Unlike his former colleagues, Gatt faces just one criminal charge – that of fraud.

Aron Mifsud Bonnici (7)


Aron Mifsud BonniciAron Mifsud Bonnici

Mifsud Bonnici is a familiar name to political hawks who have followed the Muscat government’s trajectory.

A lawyer with close ties to Konrad Mizzi, Mifsud Bonnici served as board secretary of multiple entities under Mizzi’s portfolio during his time in office.

Apart from representing Mizzi as his personal lawyer, Mifsud Bonnici also had three key posts linked to the Vitals deal: he was board secretary to the evaluations committee that recommended the company for the tender, he sat on the negotiation committee that negotiated the concession and also formed part of the steering committee that oversaw the process. 

Earlier this year, Times of Malta reported that he was under investigation in connection with €1.4m worth of suspicious transactions. He says they were all above board.

Mifsud Bonnici faces charges of fraud and forming part of a criminal association.

James Camenzuli (16)

Evaluation committee chair

James CamenzuliJames Camenzuli

An engineer by profession, he was chairman of the evaluation committee responsible for choosing Vitals as the best company to run three public hospitals.

Camenzuli had presented the evaluation report which former minister Konrad Mizzi had allegedly used to decide on the hospitals privatisation deal in one of the hearings for Adrian Delia's case.

The report was never published, but the landmark judgment delivered last year concluded the committee had failed to carry out basic due diligence on Vitals, with Camenzuli insisting that was the responsibility of other entities.

He is to be charged with fraud amounting to over €5,000 and having made fraudulent gains.

Manuel Castagna (24)

Evaluation committee member

Manuel CastagnaManuel Castagna

Castagna was on the evaluation committee which decided Vitals was the government's best choice. But he was also a Nexia BT official.

Nexia BT is the same firm ex-government officials Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri used to set up suspected money-laundering structures in Panama.

Castagna has himself since been charged with money laundering, in a case linked to Schembri.

Two of his former bosses, Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, are alleged to have helped Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi commit crimes in the hospitals deal. 

Castagna has claimed in court to have been unaware that the government had already signed a memorandum of understanding with Vitals, before the tender was issued. 

He faces charges of having actively participated in a criminal activity and criminal association.

Robert Borg (14)

Evaluation committee member

Robert BorgRobert Borg

An accountant by profession, he completed the committee trio.

He has also acted as the financial controller of the Labour-leaning General Workers’ Union and has served on many government entities.

He owned a company called B.E.D Limited, suspected to have been used to channel money from businessman Yorgen Fenech to the Labour Party.

Like Castagna, Borg also claimed to have been unaware of the MoU with Vitals. 

Borg is to be charged with fraud amounting to over €5,000 and having made fraudulent gains.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.