The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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Health Minister 'not informed' on government action to retrieve €400m after Steward bankruptcy

Kyle Patrick Camilleri Tuesday, 7 May 2024, 18:11 Last update: about 2 months ago

Health Minister Jo Etienne Abela said in Parliament on Tuesday that he is not being informed about the legal action that is being taken, if any, to retrieve the €400 million involved in the now annulled hospitals deal.

Health Minister Abela was first pressed by Opposition MP Beppe Fenech Adami to disclose what "concrete action" he and the government have taken at a legal level since Monday to work to get back the infamous €400 million sum from the hospitals deal.

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 Fenech Adami's question related to the Steward Healthcare's announcement on Monday that the company filed for bankruptcy in the United States.

"I am not a legal person," Abela responded, "As Health Minister, I am not informed about this."

This statement caused a brief ruckus to emerge within the House.

This prompted former PN leader Adrian Delia to describe how a company worth €1,000 is not normally given contracts worth hundreds of millions of euros. He then mentioned how Steward Health Care owes "a lot" of money to Bank of Valletta and repeated the question to Minister Abela, after first stating his shock towards the Minister's response.

"I shall repeat - I am not being informed on what is going on," Abela said, "As Health Minister, I do not go into the legalisms of what you are requesting me to answer. I am answering honestly."

Delia then asked a follow-up question to the Minister. He said that he would have preferred asking questions to those directly involved in the fraudulent hospitals' deal, and asked Minister Abela whether he was given a handover by former Health Minister Chris Fearne and whether or not he was given any insight into this deal's contract.

An even greater commotion arose in the House as Abela said he received a handover but did not have the information to answer the questions being tabled to him.

"I was given a handover, though I am incognisant of the information you are asking for," Minister Abela said.

Throughout this questioning, Abela mentioned that the arbitration process between the Maltese government and Steward Health Care is still underway and that "the government is taking every action to safeguard the national interest" throughout these proceedings.

Later during this plenary session, the Nationalist Party's Ivan J. Bartolo said that the Prime Minister should publish the conclusions of the Vitals magisterial inquiry.

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