Maltese institutions either captured or spineless - Jason Azzopardi

In Parliament on Tuesday, PN MP Jason Azzopardi said that every negotiation that Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi was a part of is embroiled in corruption though he retains his office; now Satabank is under fire

PN MP Jason Azzopardi
PN MP Jason Azzopardi

Jason Azzopardi said that Malta is going through a period of state capture under a kleptocratic government. "There was never a period in Maltese history where so many institutions have been bought by the government or have abdicated from their duties," he said.

Azzopardi was talking in Parliament on Tuesday on Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi's shady dealings, now implicating Satabank, a Fintech-advanced European bank operating in St Julians, whose Bulgarian owner carries with him the shadow of malfeasance, Azzopardi said.

"Despite the character assassination on Daphne Caruana Galizia, David Casa, Simon Busuttil, who all tried to reveal the corruption of this government, the PN was right about Pilatus Bank," he said. "The owner of Pilatus bank faces 125 years imprisonment with his bank license revoked." So much so, Azzopardi claimed, that the European Commission did something it never did in 50 years, and intervened in the enforcement of anti-money laundering rules in a Member State.

"Now," he said, "we have the saga of Satabank."

Satabank is owned by Bulgarian Cristo Georgiev. He had been previously operating in financial services in Luxembourg until 2013. The PN MEP explained in parliament how this same Georgiev was being investigated by the country's FIAU on money laundering before skipping to Malta. "The MFSA did not participate in any sort of due diligence as it should have done. Had it done so, Satabank would have never started to operate in Malta."

Azzopardi claimed that besides the bank accounts of honest and hardworking Maltese citizens, there were in Satabank the bank accounts of former European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli, Mark Pawley's Bluestone Investments and Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH).

"I'd like to remind everyone that VGH is the same corporation that agreed in a request for proposals to a contract of €2.1 billion on the Maltese hospital concession under emphyteutic obligation for 99 years." The memorandum of understanding that included specific details on the precise number of beds in the hospitals had been signed by VGH CEO, Mark Pawley and VGH representative Ram Tumuluri through registered companies in British Virgin Islands. The latter is facing allegations of fraud in Canada.

VGH, however, had claimed financial difficulty and sold the concession to Steward Healthcare. Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi had been absent from the announcement of the sale 11 months ago despite him being the Minister responsible for Private Public Partnerships.

"There is a need for a public investigation into every negotiation and contract entered into by Konrad Mizzi," Azzopardi said. "17 Black is not a standalone account. There's Macbridge too in Dubai."

Azzopardi said that hardworking people and businesses cannot keep suffering because of the fact that the institutions of the country were "either bought or spineless."