by a Blog Reader

Shortly after the court judgement, last Thursday, ex-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on public media that the court determined that there was civil fraud, not criminal fraud. Instead telling us how he had fought tooth and nail against fraud – he didn’t! – Muscat repeatedly emphasized what type of fraud it was. Fraud is no badge of honour even if it’s of a civil nature.

Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale accused the biggest players in the hospitals saga of fraud. He also expressed serious concerns how Konrad Mizzi’s contract made “no logical sense.” This is especially so for a person who claims to have been a partner in a business consultancy in the UK. Mizzi had conceded to Vitals up to 2022 what Vitals should have done four years earlier. He did so without the government gaining anything in return. The court also expressed bewilderment at how the defendants were “all… trying to escape responsibility.”  The court reserved a stern rebuke for a prime minister who was supposed to represent the republic and noted that the attorney general should have sought the contract’s recission. Instead, the attorney general had the audacity for the past five years to repeatedly ask the court to toss out Adrian Delia’s fight for the nation.

What is the difference between civil and criminal fraud? And why is Muscat more concerned about criminal fraud?

Civil fraud refers to fraudulent acts that result in financial loss to the individual or country. This is why Delia emphasized that if he were to win the case, it would be a win for Malta. As it turned out, the court determined that the country had been embezzled through fraudulent contracts and agreements. As a result, Vitals and Steward lost whatever contractual benefits they could have expected to continue to reap for the future.

If the police were to determine that their evidence of fraud is sufficient, a fraud that has already been highlighted in great detail by the civil court, they could proceed against Muscat, Mizzi and other politicians who were involved in dealing with the two companies. Criminal fraud punishes the perpetrators to deter others from embezzling victims such as the taxpayers. If convicted, the perpetrators can face prison time. Given the amount involved in the heist, roughly about a billion euros, stolen from the taxpayer, one could expect stiff sentences. This will be no weekend retreat in Kordin. This is what Muscat fears most for his inner circle even though he tried to put on a brave face during the interview while bolting away from the camera at the first opportunity he had.

Law enforcement agencies may have to investigate the matter and pursue criminal fraud now that the civil court has spoken, and the details are out in open. As the storm reaches parliament, and whirls around in the press, the pressure can only increase. But then this is Malta, cursed by its small size, where everyone knows everybody, and law and order buckle under the glare of a powerful government. The golden rule holds that he who has the gold makes the rules. It’s the government who holds the purse and pulls the strings.


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