The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Cooking history

Kevin Cassar Sunday, 16 June 2024, 08:16 Last update: about 2 months ago

Minister Owen Bonnici, Abela’s most senior cabinet member, vindictively ordered government employees, day in day out, to dismantle Daphne Caruana Galizia’s memorial. He was found guilty of breaching the public’s fundamental right to freedom of expression. But that’s not his worst crime.

Bonnici was on Andrew Azzopardi’s programme just before the recent devastating election, lying through his teeth, distorting reality and cooking history. Bonnici deviously argued that the fraudulent Vitals deal was done in good faith and that as soon as there was the slightest indication (l-inqas xamma) of wrongdoing government took action. Could he be more false, more dishonest, more crooked?  That government action according to Bonnici involved requesting the Auditor General to investigate the Vitals deal.

Bonnici argued “we are not perfect, I too made mistakes, but we did a lot of good - today you wouldn’t recognise the country”. Bonnici was pushing Labour’s lie: Vitals wasn’t a meticulously orchestrated Ponzi scheme set up by an army of “professional money launderers” – according to the magisterial inquiry – paid by taxpayers’ money (meant for our hospitals) to set up complex financial structures in secret jurisdictions. According to Bonnici it was just a mistake and the very minute there was any doubt raised about the deal, Muscat’s government acted.  What a fraud.

Bonnici thinks everybody’s dumb.  The saddest thing is that Bonnici was allowed to get away with it.  Nobody on the programme challenged his distortion - neither the presenter nor the opposition representative.

Bonnici argued it was Chris Fearne who referred the Vitals deal to the Auditor general for investigation which, he falsely claimed, showed Muscat’s government was determined to be completely transparent because it had nothing to hide.

Fearne did refer the case to the Auditor General but he did it without Joseph Muscat’s or Konrad Mizzi’s consent or approval. Muscat and Mizzi were livid.  They threw every spoke in the Auditor’s wheels to prevent him carrying out his duty.

Mizzi refused to meet the NAO’s officials (https://timesofmalta.com/article/konrad-mizzi-refused-to-meet-auditor-probing-failed-vitals-hospitals.921367 ) despite his key role in the Vitals scam.  He refused to provide information and actively hampered the investigation.  “It is with gravest concern that the NAO views the failure of the Minister for Tourism to cooperate in this audit as inexcusable compounded no less by the centrality of his role in the concession”.  His “shirking of accountability” hampered its work the NAO reported.  “The NAO holds a bleak view of the Minister for Tourism’s conduct”.  The NAO also criticised Keith Schembri for his “terse” replies, providing no insight into the transfer of the deal to Steward in which he was directly involved. He concealed his involvement by using his private e-mail under a false name, Frank Pillow.

The NAO condemned both for being “devoid of the expected standards of accountability and transparency”.  Read that, Owen Bonnici - devoid of transparency.

Muscat didn’t order them to provide the requested documents and information and then sack them.  Quite the contrary.  He protected them and Muscat and his co-accused concealed the secret memorandum of understanding signed months before Vitals was given the concession. Malta Enterprise helped keep it secret.  That document according to Robert Abela was “missing”.  For years government had fought in court to block access to the document citing confidentiality clauses. Yet miraculously after pressure was applied the document was “found” (https://timesofmalta.com/article/lost-and-found-secret-vgh-agreement-submitted-to-auditor.804930 ) but Abela refused to publish it.

Muscat had known from the start the whole deal was a scam.  Instead of taking action Muscat quickly forwarded that e-mail to his co-accused Keith Schembri to warn him that the deal was raising suspicions.

Muscat had his own due diligence on the Vitals group but kept it secret. It showed Vitals had absolutely no experience in health and, more importantly, no money.  There was no way they were going to come up with 200 million euro for our hospitals.  Muscat knew all this but went ahead.  That was no mistake.  It was a meticulously planned heist of his own people.

Owen Bonnici claimed his government wanted transparency.  For years Muscat and his government refused to publish the Vitals contracts.  When finally tabled in parliament entire pages were redacted and big chunks of key text were blacked out.

When the police raided his home Muscat refused to provide them with passwords for his phones and tablet.  Is that somebody who wants the truth to come out?

What did Owen Bonnici’s government do when the NAO finally published three damning Vitals reports? It conveniently ignored them.  Prime Minister Abela deviously stated “the NAO’s findings on VGH hospitals deal are not relevant to current discussions with Steward Health care”.

When Adrian Delia went to court over the Vitals/Steward case, Muscat and Mizzi negotiated an obscene 100 million euro termination clause requiring the state to pay Steward a massive amount of money plus all outstanding debts if the concession were terminated - even if that was due to Steward’s failure to honour contractual obligations.

Labour attempted to conceal the massive fraud.  It’s still trying. 

Its police force ignored the NAO reports and two court sentences. No action was taken - at all.  Yet Owen Bonnici falsely claimed on live radio that “we have a police corps that investigates”.  He knows they don’t.  Our police force ignored FIAU reports, magisterial inquiries and court orders in the case of former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, Pilatus officials, Silvio Valletta, Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri, and the Siggiewi electoral fraud.

Robert Abela keeps maligning the magistrate to try and discredit the truth she’s exposed while Owen Bonnici keeps cooking history.  The nation has tired of their nonsense.

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