Contracts director complicit in Vitals-Steward procurement, says MEP candidate

PN candidate Peter Agius calls out Director of Contracts to reconsider his position after failing to act upon Steward contract fraud

Peter Agius
Peter Agius

The Nationalist candidate for Europe Peter Agius has called out the Director of Contracts, calling on Anthony Cachia reconsider his position after failing to act on contract fraud in the Steward hospitals privatisation.

Agius had already written to Cachia back on 21 June 2022, together with Nationalist MP and public accounts committee chairman Darren Carabott, bringing to his attention the constant breaches of law in public procurement.

In his letter, Peter Agius pointed out to the legal responsibilities of the Director of Contracts as chairman of the contracts committee to investigate and take action on mismanagement and fraud relating to public contracts.

“The Contracts Director was duty-bound to prevent fraud in the Vitals contract. Instead he toed the government line for three years after the Auditor General’s findings, putting partisan interests before the public interest, and costing the taxpayer an additional €130 million disbursed since then. The recent Vitals court judgement obliges the director of contracts to reconsider his position,” Agius said.

Agius added that Cachia’s responsibility should have kicked in already in July 2020 after the damning Auditor General’s report, which illustrated the technical and legal breaches of public procurement law and procedure. “Instead, Cachia waited for instructions from above. Public officials are entrusted with public duties as per law. They are there to protect the public interest not the powers that be on the day, especially if those come with fraudulent objectives.”

Agius also pointed out that his letter back in June 2022 had already pointed out to a series of misgivings in the operations of the Contracts department, which is meant to apply Maltese and European law to ensure a fair and transparent public procurement market. “That letter was never answered in another show of disdain to the obligations of public service to the taxpayer,” Agius said.