Straws and shells

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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

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