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Editorial note: we had to miss last week’s hearings, which is why our count goes from day nine to day eleven. We published a brief explainer note about this, which you can read here.

Watch our summary of today’s proceedings by clicking here.

You can also read our full live blog by clicking here.

EN translation of today’s summary clip:

When your job involves verifying how public money was spent in a country that is run by pirates, you can imagine what kind of thick skin one must have.

Earlier today in the criminal court, auditor general Charles Deguara demonstrated just that as he testified for the second time in the case of the Republic of Malta v disgraced former health minister Chris Fearne and his former associates and colleagues in the hospitals concession case.

Before talking about today, however, please let me borrow your attention to talk about what happened last week since I was not around to report on it.

One of the most important steps we witnessed last week was the confirmation of the charges against Shaukat Ali and the members of his family who formed part of the original group behind VGH. They will now stand trial.

We also found out that the republic of Malta is having trouble with finding the legal representatives of Swiss companies that were caught up in dubious consultancy arrangements with disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat – Accutor AG and Spring Healthcare Services AG.

The only representative who showed up was Wasay Bhatti and the companies he represents. One of the main suspects and the frontman who previously appeared on behalf of VGH, Ram Tumuluri, cannot be found.

Apart from all this, we heard the testimony of auditor general Charles Deguara, the same public official we heard from earlier today.

Last week, Deguara had spoken at length about the three voluminous reports about the hospitals concession that were compiled by his office. He had already testified about how absolutely unacceptable it was for the government to sign a memorandum of understanding with VGH’s investors five months before a public call was made.

Today, at the insistence of the defence, Deguara was yet again forced to defend the merits of his office’s work, which in his own words is meant to function as a guardian of public funds.

The most notable argument that supports Deguara’s testimony is the fact that no health professionals – not even high ranking officials from the health ministry itself – were involved in the tendering process.

After all, bringing in investors who would have the capacity to issue enough capital to improve the quality of healthcare provided by these hospitals was the whole point of this concession, along with stated plans to generate medical tourism which investors had claimed would be an important part of their plans.

Today, we know for sure that we did not see a cent of the vast sums of money which were supposed to be used to improve our hospitals going towards actually improving our hospitals.

Besides from hearing more from the auditor general, today we also heard from one of the police superintendents who previously worked with the financial crimes unit, James Grech. Grech was one of the officers who was tasked with investigating allegations made in Fearne’s regard.

Pause for a minute here because this is important – thanks to an investigation carried out by the Times and OCCRP, we learned that Steward Healthcare spent millions of euros to create and plant fake stories about Fearne and Carmen Ciantar, who used to be a person of trust within his ministry.

When these fake stories were published last year, Fearne had asked the police to investigate, who, as we found out today, had taken action to investigate these stories. It didn’t take them that long to exonerate Fearne and Ciantar since they concluded that there was no evidence to support these stories.

This is important because it clearly shows that, whenever he wants to, the police commissioner does not interfere with his officers’ efforts to investigate corruption accusations involving Cabinet ministers.

This contrasts greatly with what we heard from police officials who interacted with the police file on the hospitals concession. As we saw in other hearings related to this case, the police did practically nothing except when the inquiring magistrate ordered them to take action.

Another important witness we heard from today – and this is the last one for today’s summary – was lawyer Antoine Cremona, who testified on behalf of Ganado Advocates. He was involved in the concession as a representative of Ganado Advocates, who were hired as legal consultants for the tendering process.

While he was explaining how the legal firm he represents had always insisted that such a massive concession must be subject to a tender, Cremona also mentioned that while his team was working on the legal documentation that would support this tender, government consultants had piled pressure onto his firm to speed up the process.

Specifically, these consultants were David Galea, a close friend of disgraced former health minister Konrad Mizzi, and a representative of the company RSM Ltd, which was set up by the former auditor of the Labour Party Deo Scerri.

For the rest of the details about this hearing, you can go to our live blog on

Thank you for following us – see you on Wednesday.

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