[WATCH] Judge dismisses PN’s request for court to force State Advocate to recover Vitals money

The court dismisses Opposition’s request to force the State Advocate to take legal action to recover public funds spent on the fraudulent hospitals deal • Prime Minister Robert Abela slamS Bernard Grech and the PN for their 'vindictiveness' against public officials and their families

Opposiiton leader Bernard Grech
Opposiiton leader Bernard Grech

Judge Toni Abela has dismissed a request by Opposition leader Bernard Grech and MP Adrian Delia to force the State Advocate to recover defrauded funds from the corrupt hospitals’ deal.

In his judgment, Abela ruled it was not the court’s competence to tell the State Advocate what to do.

The case was initiated late last year following a court ruling that annulled the hospitals deal, calling it fraudulent.

The Opposition MPs wanted the court to order the State Advocate to recover up to €400 million in taxpayer funds that were paid to the concessionaires of the deal – Vitals at first and Steward later.

In a brief statement outside the law courts just after the judgment was delivered, Grech said it was now up to the State Advocate to initiate any legal proceedings to recover funds that were spent fraudulently. He criticised the government for its failure to take the necessary action to recoup the money that was passed on to the private companies.

He said the PN would be studying the judgment to determine what the next course of action could be.

Robert Abela, Jonathan Attard slam PN's 'vindictiveness'

Addressing a press conference shortly after the judgement, Prime Minister Robert Abela slammed Bernard Grech and the PN for their “vindictiveness” against public officials and their families. 

Abela said the PN wanted to recoup the money that was stolen by Steward from Maltese public officials such as Chris Fearne and their families. Among the PN’s aims for this court case according to the Prime Minister was, “to instill fear in the public service” and to subvert the constitutional role of the State Advocate.

Abela further stated that Bernard Grech committed perjury when he opened the court case, and when he was asked by journalists whether the Attorney General should act on this, Abela said he doesn’t exclude “any form of action” against Grech.

Abela, as well as justice minister Jonathan Attard, also spoke about ongoing the international arbitration filed by Steward Healthcare after the hospitals concession was annulled by court, but due to “confidentiality,” the pair could only speak about this vaguely. 

Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

When asked by journalists, Attard stated that despite Steward filing for bankruptcy earlier this year, all public funds that were stolen by Steward would be returned to the state. Attard assured the public that Malta’s legal representatives are working hard to recoup all funds that might have been misappropriated.

Only change in government will get back the €400 million – Bernard Grech

In a press conference after the court decision, the Opposition leader said the only way for the country to get back the €400 million was through a change in government.

He said people should be reminded that Abela tried to prevent the State Advocate from initiating procedures in court.

Opposition leader Bernard Grech
Opposition leader Bernard Grech

He said that since Robert Abela insists on abdicating his responsibility, “from now on the Nationalist Party will increase its efforts to ensure that there is a new Government willing to fight for the Maltese and Gozitan people and recover our money.”

For his part, Adrian Delia said every day that passes without government trying to recoup the €400 million, “is a day lost for our country.”

“Abela should at least explain why he is not trying to recover the money stolen by Steward and Vitals,” Delia said.