The Weekly Round-Up (19/01/18)

Ferris Denied Government Protection 

The government has denied whistleblower protection to former FIAU investigator Jonathan Ferris. Mr Ferris applied for protection under the Whistleblower Act, but according to his lawyers, protection has been refused unless Mr Ferris turns over all the information he has to the Office of the Prime Minister. Mr Ferris previously stated he had passed copies of the information at his disposal to trusted associates, to be leaked in case Ferris is murdered.

Government will pay Vitals 80 million for return of public hospitals

Media reports revealed the government must pay 80 million in taxpayer money to Vitals Global Healthcare to return control over public hospitals after 30 years. Vitals currently pays 525 000 a year to rent the three hospitals with all their equipment. As such, the unknown owner of Vitals would make a five-fold profit, or 64 million in total, from the deal. Defending the agreement in a parliamentary debate, Health Minister Chris Fearne said he would show it to the Opposition after its finalisation. The government is refusing to debate the Vitals deal in a committee, which would allow the Opposition to call in and question witnesses.

Steward Silent on Vitals Deal

In another chapter of the Vitals saga, Steward Healthcare has refused to comment on whether or not it has made an agreement with Vitals Global Healthcare; this is despite allegations by Minister Konrad Mizzi that an agreement, whereby Vitals would sell its concession to Steward for an undisclosed sum, was concluded. It was also revealed that Vitals has broken another clause of its agreement with the government, by negotiating with Steward before the government gave its consent.

Police Sits on Jimmy Magro Corruption Case 

The police says it needs more evidence before it can proceed against Jimmy Magro, former secretary general of the Labour Party. Mr Magro is implicated in a 2014 corruption scandal where he allegedly asked for a 25,000 kickback in return for granting a Local Councils contract to one of the bidders. The Anti-Corruption Committee is “morally convinced” that Mr Magro is guilty; he denies the charges.

PN Appoints John Rizzo to Anti-Corruption Committee 

The Nationalist Party has appointed former Police Commissioner John Rizzo to the Permanent Commission Against Corruption. Mr Rizzo, who served as police chief between 2001 and 2013, was removed after the 2013 election. Mr Rizzo was investigating allegations against former European Commissioner John Dalli when he was sacked by the incoming government. Peter Paul Zammit, his replacement, lasted just over a year before he was also forced to resign.

Labour Party Reporter Gets Plum Job 

Nicole Buttigieg, a junior reporter at One News, has been appointed to the Board of Petitions by Justice Minister Owen Bonnici. Ms Buttigieg, who is 21 years old, will receive 10,000 a year to sit on the board. Despite not having a degree, nor any relevant experience on waiving traffic fines, Minister Bonnici said he was sure she was up to the job.

 

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