The Malta Independent 28 September 2020, Monday

Investigation, inquiry into VGH deal ongoing; police do not answer questions new NAO report

Albert Galea Monday, 3 August 2020, 08:04 Last update: about 3 months ago

An investigation and magisterial inquiry are still ongoing into the deal between the government and Vitals Global Healthcare, and as a result the Police Force has said that they are unable to answer questions about the recently released NAO report regarding the Memorandum of Understanding.

The National Audit Office (NAO) declared recently that the once missing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government and Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) investors "strongly supports" its conclusion that the tender process for the operation of three hospitals was "staged and deceitful". The MoU had been signed prior to the Request for Proposals for the hospitals deal being issued.

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The NAO noted that a meeting with the investors was convened by the former OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri at the Office of the Prime Minister, before the MoU was signed. 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.

Keith Schembri issued a sworn affidavit after the report was published, saying that he did not negotiate the MoU, did not sign it, did not write it and had no involvement in it, instead shifting the responsibility onto Malta Enterprise’s former CEO Mario Galea.

However Galea denied that he had been involved in any negotiations prior to the signing of the MoU.

This means that it is still unclear who exactly negotiated the MoU before it was signed. Answers given to this newsroom from the Office of the Prime Minister last week failed to shed any light on this matter.

This newsroom also sent questions to the police over Keith Schembri’s alleged involvement as per the NAO report, asking amongst other things whether Schembri had been questioned by police over the matter.

“Kindly note that an investigation and a magisterial inquiry are still ongoing regarding to the Vital Global Healthcare deal. Therefore no information can be divulged as this may and would indeed prejudice the outcome of the same investigation and inquiry”, a spokesperson for the police said.

Questions were also sent to Konrad Mizzi – who was Health Minister at the time – and Chris Cardona – who was Economy Minister and who signed the MoU.  Both these sets of questions, however, remain unanswered.

The questions as sent to the police were as follows:

The NAO said that Keith Schembri was the person to set up a meeting between the government and the group of investors, yet refused to speak with the NAO about the issue. Will or has the police been questioning Schembri?

Is the investigation into the VGH deal still ongoing?  Is this due to a magisterial inquiry or is there also a separate investigation?

Have the police communicated with the NAO over the matter?

Are the police considering Keith Schembri as a person of interest in any investigation linked to the subject?

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