The company which has been handling all cleaning services at the government’s St Vincent De Paul facility for over three years, and paid millions of euros, did not even exist at the time it was tasked to do the work, the Times of Malta has learnt.
As Active Ageing Parliamentary Secretary Anthony Agius Decelis continues to dodge questions on the multi-million direct orders, which have been issued repeatedly by the government during the past years, the Times of Malta found that no tender has ever been issued to X-Clean Ltd and the selection of the individual tasked with the job was made directly by the then Family Affairs Ministry.
Last week, this newspaper reported that X-Clean Ltd, responsible for the cleaning services at the government’s old people’s home, is being paid over €300,000 a month for its services.
In breach of public procurement rules, the government has renewed the acquisition of the cleaning services directly from X-Clean every few months for the past three years and no new tender was issued.
Times of Malta is informed that Denis Xuereb, from Naxxar, had been tasked with providing cleaning services at the facility since April 1, 2015, on the instructions of the facility’s CEO Josianne Cutajar. The decision to select Mr Xuereb was taken by the Family Affairs Ministry led by Michael Farrugia without any call for tenders.
It was only a day after, on April 2, 2015, that X-Clean was officially registered by the registry of companies with Mr Xuereb acting as its sole director.
X-Clean is owned by another cleaning company, Crystal Clean Ltd, registered a few months earlier and owned by Kristina Xuereb, also from Naxxar.
So far the company has never presented its accounts according to the law.
Times of Malta is informed that despite the original direct order to X-Clean was intended to last for only six months – the maximum permitted by law – so that a proper new tender could be issued and evaluated, the expected tender was never published and Mr Xuereb’s company is still having his direct order renewed to this day.
The newspaper is also informed that although originally Mr Xuereb was getting less than €200,000 a month for the work, payments have swelled significantly in the last months, surpassing the €300,000-a-month bill.
Asked repeatedly to explain why a tender was never issued for this multi-million contract, who selected Mr Xuereb and his company and on what criteria and whether these services were being procured according to law, Parliamentary Secretary Agius Decelis, who took over from Dr Farrugia, is refusing to reply, despite repeated reminders.
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, who was also copied in with the questions, as his ministry is supposed to oversee public procurement, also declined to give comment.
Since April 1, 2015, Mr Xuereb’s company received millions in payments from the government.
“It is quite clear that there is something very dodgy going on at St Vincent De Paul as it is not normal to have such services procured every few months through a direct order,” sources familiar with St Vincent de Paul said.
“Also, X-Clean may also be providing much more than cleaning services to the facility as cleaning alone does not justify payments of over €300,000 a month,” the sources said.
St Vincent De Paul has been in the headlines in the past weeks as a €60 million tender for the provision of meals and a new kitchen at the facility ended up as a 500-bed extension for which the government is forking out €274 million to James Caterers and a subsidiary of the Seabank DB group.
The tender is now under investigation by the National Audit Office.