The Malta Independent 16 April 2024, Tuesday
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Adrian Delia claims Robert Abela knew Steward deal was fraudulent in 2021

Thursday, 30 March 2023, 09:15 Last update: about 2 years ago

Former Opposition Leader Adrian Delia claimed in Parliament on Wednesday that Prime Minister Robert Abela was told that the hospitals' deal was fraudulent 2021, long before the court judgment delivered last month.

"Steward CEO Armin Ernst had sent a letter to the prime minister and the state advocate in September 2021 telling them there were 'clear indications' that the deal awarded to Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) was 'fraudulent'," Delia said during the adjournment of Wednesday’s sitting, before Parliament rose for Easter recess.

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"It is not true that Abela just discovered there was fraud when the judgment was given last month,” Delia said.

Abela knew there was fraud since at least September 2021, but continued to defend the deal until the judgment was delivered.

In this judgment on 24 February, Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale rescinded the deal to transfer three hospitals to the private sector, describing it as "fraudulent".

The PN MP tabled eight documents in parliament which he said exposed the truth behind the Vitals and Stewards deal.

One of the documents is a 14-page letter dated September 27, 2021, addressed to Abela and State Advocate Christopher Soler, and signed by Steward Healthcare President and CEO Armin Ernst and the company's general lawyer.

Quoting from the document, Delia said: "Recent evidence suggests that the granting of the concession to VGH was, to say the least, improper. It is not the purpose of this letter to consider and conclude if the award was fraudulent (though there are clear indications that this is the case). This analysis will require further investigation and review of documentation which may not be made available to us and is beyond our purpose today. We are, though, aware that criminal investigation proceedings are underway and as part of such proceedings, Steward Malta has had its offices searched by the police."

This means that Abela was told about the irregularities and possible fraud related to the deal, and yet he continued to defend it, Delia said. Abela was not silent about the deal for a few days, but for much more than that, he said.

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