Who is accused in the first charges filed by the AG on the Vitals privatisation deal?

A quick guide to the first people accused with corruption, money laundering and bribery in the hospitals privatisation saga

Left to right: Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi
Left to right: Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi

Joseph Muscat

The former Labour prime minister resigned in 2019 in the wake of the arrest of Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech, accused as the alleged mastermind in the Caruana Galizia assassination. Since 2018 it had been revealed that Muscat’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, was Fenech’s secret business partner in a network of offshore companies suspected of channelling dirty money from government mega-contracts. Fenech resigned, and Muscat followed suit as his Cabinet demanded a way out of the political crisis. Since news of the magisterial inquiry being concluded came out, Muscat first toyed with a bid for MEP, which he never followed up, and now has accused his detractors of pursuing a vendetta against him on a magisterial inquiry.

Konrad Mizzi

The former Labour minister of energy, health, and later tourism, was the chief architect of the Muscat administration’s PPP agency Projects Malta, which effectively stewarded all major government contracts with private entities: Vitals was one of them, and even after the Steward handover, Mizzi was still working on contractual changes which suspiciously benefited Steward alone. Mizzi resigned in 2019, and was later sacked from the party over press reports revealing alleged corruption in an Enemalta wind farm deal in Montenegro.

Keith Schembri

The former chief of staff of Joseph Muscat and architect of Labour’s 2013 electoral victory, Schembri is a businessman who is believed to have used his overweening influence inside the Muscat administration to personally benefit from major government concessions to the private sector. Schembri, who was Muscat’s chief of staff from 2013 to 2019, has already been charged with money laundering, corruption, fraud and forgery. The investigation was looking into claims that Schembri paid former Allied Newspapers director Hillman €650,000 between 2011 and 2015 through offshore bank accounts, for a deal for his company Kasco to provide machinery for a new printing press. Schembri has called the inquiry a “travesty of justice”. “For the establishment, the ‘crime’ I am guilty of is having formed part of Joseph Muscat’s team that led to a number of electoral victories for the (Labour) party that I love so much.”

Schembri had already resigned as chief of staff in November 2019 after his name was mentioned by businessman Yorgen Fenech, the main suspect in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder.

In September 2020, Schembri was arrested and his assets were frozen over an investigation into alleged kickbacks connected to Malta’s sale of passports to wealthy foreigners.

Christopher Spiteri

Auditor who registered the first companies established in Malta by Pakistani businessman Shaukat Ali and his family in 2014. He was later responsible for the audit of the accounts of Vitals Global Healthcare.

Adrian Hillman

Former director of Allied Newspapers and Progress pRess accused of having been paid €650,000 between 2011 and 2015 through offshore bank accounts, for a deal for Keith Schembri’s company Kasco to provide machinery for Progress Press’s new printing press.

Pierre Sladden

Sladden was a subcontractor on the €30 million Progress Press relocation and refurbishment. Keith Schembri was a shareholder in a Cypriot company through which €900,000 was passed on to Sladden’s personal offshore company in the British Virgin Islands. The Cypriot company, A2Z Consulta, was owned jointly by three BVI companies owned by Schembri, Sladden and Hillman respectively. Sladden’s Redmap had carried out works on the printing press.

David-Joseph Meli

Legal representative of Steward Management Ltd accused of corrupting public officials.

Brian Tonna and Karl Cini

Auditors who were partners in Nexia BT, the audit firm employed by both Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi to open offshore companies in Panama. Tonna and Cini are both still facing charges in court related to financial misdemeanours in connection with Schembri.

Ivan Vassallo

Former marketing director of medical importer Technoline: he acquired the company using his personal company through a €5.14 million loan from VGH’s shareholders. The share purchase agreement was brokered when the hospital concession moved from VGH to American healthcare giant Steward. The loan was made from Vitals Procurement of Jersey, to Vassallo’s Gateway Soluutions Ltd, effectively meaning that the people running VGH had assisted Vassallo in buying out Techoline’s former shareholders, to secure exclusivity to supply the VGH concession.

Mario Victor Gatt

Shareholder in Ivan Vassallo’s Gateway Soluutions Ltd.

Brian Bondin

CEO of Mtrace plc: after Technoline was sold to Vassallo, who now had exclusivity of supply to the three hospitals run by Vitals – meaning all purchases of medical equipment for the hospitals had to pass through Technoline – the VGH consortium also took over an Italian company, Mtrace plc, that supplied materials for diagnosis and treatment of cancers and other diseases.

Clarence John Conger Thomson

IT manager for Steward Health Care International in Malta.

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