Steward Malta

In a significant development, Malta’s political history takes a dramatic turn as former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, along with his former chief-of-staff Keith Schembri, ex-minister Konrad Mizzi, and an array of individuals and companies, find themselves entangled in a legal saga. The charges span money laundering, corruption, bribery, and various other serious allegations, marking a watershed moment in Maltese political annals.

The allegations stem from a controversial deal orchestrated by Dr Muscat’s administration, aimed at privatising three state hospitals. However, this deal, which was later annulled by a court, has now become the epicenter of legal turmoil, ensnaring prominent figures in its wake.

Dr Muscat, Dr Mizzi, and Mr Schembri face a slew of charges, including money laundering, bribery, and forming a criminal association. If convicted, they could potentially face lengthy jail terms and hefty fines.

The intricate web of accusations extends beyond the political sphere, roping in individuals such as lawyer David Meli, implicated in allegedly offering bribes to the accused trio. Dr Meli represented Steward Health Care as concessionaires for the deal. Additionally, Brian Tonna and Karl Cini of Nexia BT and Panama Papers infamy are implicated for their alleged involvement in facilitating criminal activities.

Among the accused, Mr Schembri faces additional charges related to personal gain and fraudulent claims.

The controversial former chief of staff is facing charges by prosecutors from the Attorney General’s office against him in his personal capacity as well as a representative of three companies: Kasco Engineering, FSV Ltd, and Sciacca Grill, reflecting the breadth of entities implicated in the saga.

Other individuals implicated in serious offences include Christopher Spiteri, the auditor for Steward, Clarence John Conger-Thompson, the IT manager, lawyer Jonathan Vella, medical equipment supplier Ivan Vassallo, his associate Mario Victor Gatt, businessman Pierre Sladden, former Progress Press director Adrian Hillman, and Mtrace Ltd CEO Brian Bondin.

Mr Spiteri, who previously served as auditor for Vitals Global Healthcare, stands accused of several transgressions, including filing false declarations, disclosing confidential information, and under-reporting income from Vitals investors like Shaukat Ali Chaudary.

Jonathan Vella, representing Vitals’ parent company Bluestone Investments, faces charges of involvement in a criminal association, alongside allegations of making false declarations and using counterfeit documents.

Ivan Vassallo and Mario Victor Gatt, both facing parallel charges, are accused in their personal capacities as well as representatives of Technoline, Eurabytes Ltd, and Gateway Solutions Ltd.

Meanwhile, Pierre Sladden and Adrian Hillman are individually charged, while Brian Bondin faces allegations both in his personal capacity and as the director of Mtrace.

While the focus remains on high-profile figures, a secondary cohort faces charges of a lesser degree, including Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, Central Bank governor Edward Scicluna, along with three high-ranking civil servants and nine others. They face charges in connection with alleged fraud, misappropriation, and fraudulent gain related to a hospital deal.

In a separate development, another group of individuals, comprising lawyers, civil servants, and members of the adjudication committee involved in awarding the significant hospital deal to Vitals Global Healthcare, are also slated to face serious charges. Notably, this list does not include individuals accused of bribery or trading influence.

Among those listed are former and current permanent secretaries – Alfred Camilleri, Joseph Rapa and Ronald Mizzi, adjudication committee members James Camenzuli, Manuel Castagna and Robert Borg, financial controller Kenneth Deguara, and lawyers Kevin Deguara, Jean Carl Farrugia, Aron Mifsud Bonnici, Deborag Anne Chappell and Bradley Gatt. Additionally, law firm DF Advocates and its sister firm DF Corporate Advisory are both mentioned, both of which provided legal counsel to Vitals and its medical supplier Technoline.

The aforementioned group are facing charges of fraud amounting to over €5,000 as well as having made fraudulent gains. Further, Mr Fearne, Prof Scicluna, Mr Camilleri, Mr Mizzi, Mr Rapa and Dr Chappell are to face charges of misappropriation.

As for the three top civil servants, they will be charged with committing crimes they were duty-bound, in their professional capacity, to prevent.

Money laundering charges will be levelled against Dr Chappell – in-house legal counsel for Vitals, the Deguaras and Jean Carl Farrugia.

Arraignment proceedings for the accused are scheduled before Magistrate Rachel Montebello, although the specific date has yet to be announced.

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