Money laundering is a bitch to prove. That’s why law enforcement agencies have legal tools that allow them this crime that can be perpetrated on mobile phones and laptops.
What’s clearly maddening here is that months and years after we realise someone has probably been up to no good, the authorities look like they won’t move. Often the reasons are obvious.
The privatisation of three hospitals looked odd from the very beginning. Since the behaviour of the government cannot be explain by some demonic possession or a more contemporary medical term for functioning unwillingly under the control of someone else, it was fair to suspect the deal was corrupt.
The investigations by The Shift News from earlier this year, however, moved things from reasonable suspicion to inescapable and mounting evidence of collusion, illegal profiteering, unlawful procurement and massive misuse of public money. The only doubts that remain are the extent and the value of the swindle, not the fact that it happened.
And yet, weeks and months go by on that publication and it’s as if nothing has happened.
Repubblika filed an application in Court to have the issue investigated by a Magistrate, because it looked like no police officer was going to do that job without being ordered to. After all they’d need to ask very difficult questions to Edward Scicluna, Chris Cardona and Konrad Mizzi. And who wants to have that chat?
Today The Shift News reported that the notorious Sri Ram Tumuluri is shutting down nine of the offshore companies that the website had in prior investigations shown were set up to extract ‘commissions’ from the VGH concession in Malta.
That may or may not have happened because Sri Ram Tumuluri was told about Repubblika’s request for an inquiry. It’s impossible to know that for sure and it does not really matter.
The story here is not whether the crooks started covering up their tracks after an NGO asked the Courts to investigate them. The story here is how relaxed they were after a news organisation revealed in documented and extensive detail what they were up to. And how.
Repubblika’s action in Court today is probably unprecedented for an NGO. I can’t think of a preceding occasion where an NGO asked the Courts to issue a European Investigation Order. But we’re dealing with international crime here in which Malta is merely the victim, not the entire crime scene.
The crime scene here is the obscure web of off-shore islands through which money earned by honest tax payers in Malta that should go to care for people in Malta who turn to our national health service has instead been siphoned off by crooks with at least the connivance, if not the complicity, of the people entrusted with our government and the protection of our money and our health.
Repubblika also asked the Court to use the tools available to law enforcement agencies in Malta – a monitoring order under the Criminal Code, for example – to prevent more destruction of evidence.
We are realistic of course. No one knowingly leaves around evidence of their crime. And nothing makes them happier than the time and the opportunity to go back and clean up the scene.
But someone has to try.