Vitals inquiry: Grand Theft Malta

All you need to know about the Vitals inquiry

The 1,200-page inquiry into the fraudulent hospitals concession is no light read. 

To make reading it easier, MaltaToday brings you a series of newspoints related to the inquiry's findings, although the full inquiry can be found here.

Two of the most prominent local players in the scandal, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, held numerous companies engaged in consultancy agreements with various other companies to help them win tenders issued by Maltese authorities, in return for a commission fee.

According to the inquiry, the primary companies, Eurybates and Gateway Solutions, were used to skim profits from government tenders in the case of the former, while the latter was used to take over Technoline, which VGH used for ‘exclusive’ supply of medical equipment. 

With regards to Technoline, Schembri and Mizzi were among those destined to own the company.

The inquiry also notes that Schembri, while he was OPM's chief of staff, was fully aware of financial misappropriation of public funds by then VGH CEO, Ram Tumuluri.

In fact, Schembri had trusted a senior VGH official to create a report on Tumuluri's actions, as the report listed eleven separate instances of misappropriation of public funds running into millions of euros, including illicit withdrawals of money the government paid to Karin Grech Hospital for staff salaries. Despite knowing this, Schembri did not share it within government structures.

The inquiry notes that despite Schembri knowing about Tumuluri's past, the chief of staff still trusted him with sensitive information. In fact, in November 2016, Schembri had told Tumuluri about an early election scheduled for 2017. This revelation is yet another confirmation of what Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech had said that he knew sometime in December of 2016 that the election would happen in 2017. 

With regards to former the Prime Minister, whose government oversaw the fraudulent concession, Joseph Muscat netted over €450,000 in consultancies from private companies connected to Vitals and Steward's key players between 2020 and 2021. Investigators who analysed Muscat’s bank accounts found payments made to the former prime minister starting just months after he stepped down his role as PM and party leader, in March 2020.

Investigators have so far focused on Muscat’s payments from Accutor Consulting AG and Spring Xmedia, which was formerly called VGH Europe AG and was formed in April 2017 by Ram Tumuluri and Shaukat Ali – the latter is believed to be the chief instigator of the hospitals’ privatisation plan.

Another key player in the Vitals inquiry is Armin Ernst, who first appeared as CEO of VGH, the company that acquired the Malta hospitals concession, and after resigning, resurfaced as CEO of Steward Health Care that took over the concession agreement.

Ernst is said to be the man who authorised the the creation of what investigators believe was a political slush fund.