Straws and shells
Ever since the Panama Papers came to light, the Prime Minister has been clutching at so many straws that he can build a haystack.
The latest, ineffectual one concerns, predictably, Beppe Fenech Adami who, together with Ann Fenech, is one of the favourite targets of Labour’s dirty tricks department.
The journalists who published the CapitalOne story are clear about one point: Fenech Adami is not involved in any wrong-doing, they insist.
As MaltaToday explains “it is not Beppe Fenech Adami who is under invesigation per se: it is the people behind CapitalOne, who are clients of Baltimore” (MaltaToday, 19 October). Baltimore is the fiduciary company of which Fenech Adami used to be director.
It does not matter for Joseph Muscat, however: he desperately needs to distract the public and, if necessary, will even fabricate ‘straws’ to clutch at but Panamagate refuses to be forgotten and keeps cropping up, much to his and Mizzi’s dismay.
On another level, the CapitalOne story highlights the problems and dangers posed by anonymous companies whose owners are, for whatever reason, hidden. They could be anyone, including criminals who use such companies for money laundering and one has to be extremely careful when dealing with them.
A case in point is the sale of the Gozo, St Luke’s and Karin Grech hospitals to Vitalis (or Vitals) Global Healthcare, a company owned by another company, Bluestone Malta, which is in turn owned by another company, Bluestone Special Situation 4, which is owned by yet another company, Bluestone Malaysia, a partner of something called Oxley Capital Group. Shell companies are financial Chinese boxes.
The government reacts nervously and aggressively when anybody discusses these issues but discuss them we must and the case of the drug-dealing owner of CapitalOne should open our eyes to the dangers.
Incidentally, Minister Konrad Mizzi privately had met a director of Vitalis Global Healthcare before issuing the tender for the hospitals which, unsurprisingly, the company easily won.
The real ‘human’ owners of Vitalis Global Healthcare are unknown and could be anyone, Maltese or foreign.
For our hospitals they are spending €200 million - money of unknown origin.
CapitalOne’s owner was unknown and turned out to be a drug dealer with his money coming from crime.
Let us hope this is not the case with Vitalis Global Healthcare but the truth is that we do not know the truth.
Antoine Vella Balzan