The National Audit Office on Wednesday defended its decision to send questions in writing to Keith Schembri about its Vitals Global Healthcare contract inquiry, saying it had been unable to contact him by phone.

In a report on Tuesday about a memorandum of understanding signed by the government before a call for proposals to privatise three state hospitals was even issued, the Audit Office had complained that the former chief of staff had not replied to its questions.

But Schembri said he received a letter from the Office only on July 27, asking him to reply to questions by July 24, which was three days earlier. While denying involvement in the MOU, he said he was ready to reply to questions.

The Audit Office said on Wednesday that it made various attempts to contact Schembri by phone as soon as his involvement in the MOU was brought to its attention.

"This Office also sought to obtain the email address of Mr Schembri; however, enquiries made were unsuccessful."

It said it delivered its letter to Schembri by hand at his residence on July 21. The same letter was sent by registered post on July 22.

In his statement, Schembri had also indicated former Malta Enterprise CEO Mario Galea as the man who led negotiations. 

But in a statement of his own sent on Wednesday, Galea categorically denied having anything to do with the hospital deal. 

Galea said his involvement was restricted to talks concerning Barts Medical School, and not the separate issue concerning Vitals Global Healthcare. 



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