“Unfortunately for me, I’ve become a comfortable target for some people for whatever is attributed to the government in the time when Dr Joseph Muscat was Malta’s Prime Minister,” former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri has said, vehemently denying a new report by the Auditor General pointing at his hidden role in the controversial Vitals hospital deal.
Earlier today, the report found that Schembri had convened a meeting with the investors at Castille before the secret MoU (memorandum of understanding) was signed back in October 2014.
In the report, the National Audit Office called the whole process “staged and deceitful”, saying the way the government had taken so long to produce the MoU did not do much to sway its beliefs and that it was indeed this document that cast a “dark shadow of doubt” over the negotiations of the failed Vitals Global Healthcare venture.
The report also claims the Auditor General had made multiple attempts to contact and question Schembri over his involvement in the project, but constantly failed.
In an affadivat issued this evening, however, Keith Schembri denied any and all involvement… going on to say he only received questions from the NAO after he was meant to answer them.
“I received a letter from the NAO that arrived in my hands yesterday, 27th July 2020, which stipulated that I had to answer some questions by Friday 24th July, which is three days before the letter even got to me,” Schembri said. “Upon reading that same report, it’s very clear that the NAO spoke to a lot of involved people before it prepared its report… but in my case, I can confirm that aside from that letter which arrived the night before the report’s publication, no one even tried to send for me so that I can explain the little information I have about this MoU.”
“I did not negotiate, write or sign this MoU. I didn’t have any involvement in it.”
“The responsible person from Malta Enterprise’s side was Mario Galea, and apart from him, I don’t know who else was involved in the negotiations before the signing of the MoU, because as I’ve already explained, I wasn’t involved in the process,” Schembri continued.
Schembri swore that his only involvement was in providing a room inside Castille for the MoU to be signed… upon the request by then-Economy Minister Chris Cardona.
“As far as I know, even though he was the one to sign the MoU as the responsible Minister, Cardona was not involved in the negotiations prior to the signing,” Schembri added.
“I absolutely deny that I served as some ‘hidden hand’ as was reported on the media.”
“I don’t even know what went on to happen on this subject except for what I used to hear during the discussions on the Vitals issue during Cabinet meetings,” Schembri asserted.
“I’m now used to the fact that there are people who have a vested interest in besmirching my name and involving me in things that were never in my control or that I never had anything to do with.”
“Some feel comfortable attacking me,” Schembri finished. “As for my end, like I’ve always said, I’m available to give an explanation of everything I know… but only if I’m asked the way I should be, and not in the way that just happened, where the NAO report was concluded the day after I received a letter with questions from them.”