Police are not investigating a €274 million deal that the National Audit Office found broke the law

A spokesperson for the police force told Times of Malta that the decision had been taken following a meeting with the NAO to discuss its report into the suspect St Vincent de Paul contract. 

“It resulted that at this stage a police investigation is not necessary,” the spokesperson said in reply to questions. The police had requested the meeting, they added. 

The NAO concluded last week that the €274m deal to build a kitchen and residential blocks at the state-run home could be invalid as the Family Ministry, Department of Contracts and St Vincent de Paul had “acted in breach of legislative provisions” in the way they awarded the contract to the JCL and MHC Consortium.

The consortium is composed of James Caterers and a subsidiary of Silvio Debono’s DB Group. 

The NAO found that the consortium had been awarded the contract following a bizarre tendering process in which applicants were asked to offer an unspecified “additional investment” as part of their bid. 

After winning the bid, the consortium’s “additional investment” was modified to include construction of two additional residential blocks, to be managed and catered for by the consortium itself.

The government sought and obtained authorisation for that by citing reasons of extreme urgency. The NAO found that no such reasons existed and that the deal should have been opened up to external competition. 

Despite the huge sums involved, cabinet had not been asked to sign off on the deal and the parliamentary secretaries responsible – initially Justyne Caruana and then Anthony Agius Decelis – had been “in clear breach of their duty” by failing to inquire into the regularity of the deal, the NAO concluded. 

Prime Minister Robert Abela this week expressed disapproval of the way the deal was handled, saying it should have been presented to cabinet. Abela was not prime minister at the time. 

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