The Malta Independent 20 May 2024, Monday
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‘You are corrupt, criminals, and fraudsters like them’, Grech tells MPs who voted for Steward deal

Albert Galea Sunday, 26 February 2023, 12:53 Last update: about 2 years ago

Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech has said that every MP who voted in favour of giving more funds to Steward Health Care after it was clear that the deal between it and the government was fraudulent is “corrupt, criminal, and a fraudster like them.”

Grech was speaking at a party rally dedicated to the victory which former party leader Adrian Delia achieved in court on Friday, wherein the multi-million euro concession deal which saw the government hand over three public hospitals first to Vitals Global Health Care and then Steward Health Care be declared null.

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In his scathing judgement in the case, Judge Francesco Depasquale said that there was fraud in the deal and suggested that Steward had acted in a possibly criminal manner.  He also criticised the government as being “amateurish” in how it handled the matter.

Grech said in his speech that the Labour Party’s famed roadmap had now become an alley.

He used this analogy however to back up his recent calls for party unity: “If we aren’t strong, they will get out of it again. They will turn on the people and somehow use the people’s millions to launder their own sins.  That’s why we cannot give them an inch. We need to be vigilant. We need to pull one rope. We need to open our arms to everyone to get onto this boat. Let us put aside any differences.  Let us forgive our personal shortcomings to each other.  Only then can we move forward and continue showing them that finally the end of their diabolical plan will come.”

The PN leader said that if the government cared about the national interest it would have a clear plan about how and when they will give the hospitals back to the people.

“What have they done in the last 48 hours since the judgement?,” Grech questioned.  “Nothing?,” he quipped at a suggestion from a person in the crowd; “They have just tried to defend themselves.  You cannot trust these people,” he said.

“Where is Clyde Caruana, the man who gave more and more money to Steward every year? Where is Chris Fearne? They didn’t do a flashy press conference with satin flags and a stage worth thousands to convince us this time.  They have gone into hiding,” Grech continued.

He described Robert Abela as a “coward”, saying that the Prime Minister had defended the deal ever since he became Prime Minister three years and two months ago.

“He kept defending it even when Adrian Delia and myself filed a judicial protest to hold them all responsible, after the NAO said that things weren’t right and after Steward themselves said that the contract was fraudulent.  We told MPs that they had proof in hand, that they had Steward’s own admission that this was corrupt – and we told them not to being a part of it. We told them not to keep voting in its favour. What did they do?  They came to Parliament, tried to ridicule us, and said that they are proud to vote in favour of this deal. Now that you are proud of voting for criminals and the fraudsters who committed these shortcomings: you are criminals, corrupt, and fraudsters like they are,” Grech said.

He added that because Robert Abela did not have the “guts” to do anything, then he is complicit as well.

He said that the government is complicit because they want what is wrong to continue to reign supreme, so that they can keep doing what they want and so that they can keep snatching the country’s institutions.

He said that Robert Abela’s roadmap is to have “total control”, because as soon as one institution “escapes” then he will have his back to the wall.  This is what happened on Friday, because a Judge has a constitutional guarantee and stood up to be counted.

Grech invited people to be in front of Parliament on Monday at 6pm, as the party holds a demonstration on the deal.

Former PN leader Adrian Delia, who fronted the court case for five years after filing it when he was still party leader, also addressed the activity.

He said that he had faced five years of lies and obstacles by those who didn’t want justice and wanted to hide the truth. 

He said that the judge had declared that it was Joseph Muscat and the government who are most responsible for the defrauding of the Maltese people under this deal.

“They had to invest over 200 million.  They did not invest 1. They had to build a new hospital in Gozo – not one stone was laid.  They had to fully refurbish Karen Grech Hospital, and they did nothing. They had to refurbish St Luke’s Hospital and add over 400 beds, and they’ve left it in a state of total abandon and collapse,” Delia said of Steward.

“When a government sees that it has been taken for a ride and that the people are getting nothing, what should they say? Leave. Give the money back.  What did this government do instead?  They said, ‘My friends – because that’s what they were to the government – in three years you’ve done nothing, but you can have another three years and then another year and a half.’ Then, instead of 30 million a year they gave them 40 million, then 50 million, then 60 million, then 70 million, and, last November, another 80 million of your money,” he said.

Delia said that the Judge stated that there was fraud before the contract was signed due to the government’s secret agreement with Vitals Global Health Care, during the signing of the contract, and after the signing of the contract.

“The court found that a contract of 4,000 million over 30 years was premeditated not for hospitals, but to rob us,” Delia said.

He expressed his incredulity at Steward’s reaction to the judgement, wherein it questioned Malta’s rule of law, stating that these seem like words written “by their consultant Joseph Muscat.”

He accused Robert Abela of committing seven cardinal sins in relation to the deal, including being a consultant to Cabinet at the time, defending the deal for three years while Prime Minister, and voting to increase the amount of money given to Steward in every Budget.

Delia too used the outcome of the judgement as an opportunity to foster unity within the PN: “I did this alone, imagine what we can do together.”

The PN’s health spokesperson Stephen Spiteri also addressed the event.

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