Editorial | Konrad Mizzi must be held accountable

And while we understand that compiling evidence on possible corruption charges takes time, we hope that police investigations yield results


Eight years ago Konrad Mizzi lashed out at Nationalist ministers with cries of ‘shame on you’.

Now, a National Audit Office report suggests that not only does the former minister fully deserve to have the same said about him; the country awaits a full investigation to establish his responsibility - if any - in the country’s major corruption scandals of the past eight years.

In a show of utter contempt for the NAO’s verification process of the multi-million Vitals Global Healthcare concessions, Mizzi refused to discuss his pivotal role in the concession, a report tabled in parliament on Tuesday afternoon revealed.

“Mizzi’s failure to attend to the several requests made by the NAO constituted a serious failure on his part in terms of the level of accountability expected of a former minister of government and in terms of the standard of good governance that ought to have characterised a project as material and as important to the national health services as was this.”

It is ironic that the same man who claimed the moral high ground and who - rightly - demanded accountability from the PN, has descended into the pits.  For in any functioning democracy, ministers are duty bound to face the scrutiny of all public authorities, let alone the constitutionally-appointed NAO, which is specifically set to up to ensure that public money is well spent and accounted for.

Mizzi’s refusal to cooperate with the NAO amounts to a betrayal of trust in the people who elected him and whose tax money was used in a deal which defies common sense.

Moreover Mizzi’s contempt for institutional scrutiny is becoming his trademark. Only last month he repeatedly absented himself from parliament’s Public Accounts Committee hearings with regards to the Electrogas deal, using the flimsy excuse that his lawyer could not make it.  And when he did attend he showed all the signs of megalomania, speaking about his accomplishments and ignoring the fact that he is now best known in Malta for his Panama company and his shady dealings.

The VGH deal which saw public hospitals being sold to a company whose owners were still a mystery at the time, crowns his track record of opaqueness.

Mizzi was health minister when negotiations with the VGH commenced, he was a member of the Steering Committee tasked with overseeing the concession, and he was the signatory representing government on all contracts entered into with VGH.

The NAO said the negotiations between the Muscat administration and Vitals remained opaquely concealed to the auditors, due to a lack of documentation kept and conflicting accounts.

But the most worrying aspect of the NAO report is the suggestion that the deal was negotiated in a way which benefitted those profiting from it, rather than the Maltese taxpayer.

The NAO said the Labour administration quickly revised VGH’s deliverables, in a way that was “consistently adverse to government, with a significant reduction in services without any change in the compensation due.”

What is sure by now is that Mizzi’s fingerprints are now found on so many suspicious deals including the infamous €100 million clause obliging government to compensate VGH’s successor, Steward Healthcare.

His association with 17 Black owner Jorgen Fenech also came to light recently in chats in which Fenech contacted Mizzi in March 2019, saying “Let’s do this bloody ITS my friend”.

Apart the link between his secret Panama company with Fenech’s 17 Black, Mizzi is also linked to controversial land transfers through Projects Malta.

And while we understand that compiling evidence on possible corruption charges takes time, we hope that police investigations yield results.

But over and above this, there is a sense of political responsibility, which should be shouldered by the man who enabled and protected Mizzi, namely Joseph Muscat.

And while Robert Abela did the right thing by expelling Mizzi from the Labour parliamentary group, this does not absolve him from his duty to publically denounce both Mizzi and his predecessor for presiding over the pillage of public assets and resources.

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