The Malta Independent 22 September 2020, Tuesday

Finance Minister refuses to comment on Vitals MoU; says comments will be given in testimony

Shona Berger Wednesday, 29 July 2020, 17:12 Last update: about 3 months ago

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna has refused to comment on the Vitals Global Healthcare MoU, saying that his comments will be made when he testifies before a public inquiry.

The National Audit Office (NAO) declared on Wednesday that the once missing Memorandum of Understanding between the government and Vitals Global Healthcare investors "strongly supports" its conclusion that the tender process was "staged and deceitful".

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The Finance Minister was asked whether he was informed about the MoU situation when it was being signed, however the minister refused to answer the question, only saying that he will soon have to testify and will give his testimony in public there. It is presumed that the minister was referring to his upcoming testimony in the public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. He is planned to appear before the inquiry on 12 August.

The report had raised many questions, especially given that Keith Schembri had not responded to the NAO’s questions. The NAO noted that a meeting with the investors was convened at the Office of the Prime Minister, before the MoU was signed, by the Chief of Staff of the then-Prime Minister, Keith Schembri. This was stated to the NAO by Malta Enterprise's Principal Chief Officer, who said that Malta Enterprise was not involved in the identification of the investors for the project.

Schembri however, had declared publicly that he did not negotiate the MoU, did not sign it, did not write it and had no involvement in it. Schembri had pointed the finger at Mario Galea as the person responsible on the part of Malta Enterprise involved in the negotiations. However Galea - the Former Malta Enterprise CEO has “categorically and strongly” denied that he was involved in negotiations.

“I categorically and strongly deny that I was involved in any negotiations prior to the signing of the MOU and/or negotiated the MOU itself except for what I have stated in a separate point”, he said in reference to the above. The point he is referring to was Malta Enterprise’s role to ensure that the provisions of the contract between Government and Barts (for which ME acted as a focal point)  were to be transposed in the obligations of Vitals or whoever  runs the Gozo Hospital.”

Questions about the MoU were sent to Prime Minister Robert Abela and Joseph Muscat.

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