Top officials in EU state charged with corruption – media — RT World News

The case against the former Prime Minister of Malta, his deputy and others stems from an investigation into a privatization scandal

A number of high-ranking former and current officials in Malta have been charged with corruption in the hospital privatization scandal, Agence France-Presse reported on Tuesday.

Agence France-Presse, citing documents it obtained, said that the charges against former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, current Deputy Prime Minister Chris Verne, and the Governor of the Central Bank of the European Union, Edward Scicluna, were filed on Monday.

Muscat, who was Prime Minister of Malta between 2013 and 2020, has reportedly been charged with accepting bribes, corruption in public office and money laundering.

Verne and Scicluna were charged with fraud, embezzlement and making fraudulent gains, AFP reported.

These accusations are the result of an investigation dating back to a decision taken by the Labor Party government in Muscat in 2015 to transfer the management of three public hospitals in the Mediterranean island nation to a private company. The company later sold the franchise to the US Steward Hospital Network. The privately owned chain filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, putting all 31 of its U.S. hospitals up for sale.

Last year, a Maltese court annulled the privatization after the opposition objected to the deal. The court said it found evidence of fraudulent behavior. The Court of Appeal later upheld the ruling for cause “Collusion” Between companies and senior government officials.

Agence France-Presse reported that the Minister of Health and Chief of Staff in Muscat at the time were accused of bribery and money laundering.

Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who published extensive investigations into the Muscat administration's privatization deals, was assassinated in 2017. The political fallout from the murder forced Muscat to resign in late 2019.

Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abella questioned the integrity of the investigation on Monday. Local media quoted him as saying that the investigation's findings were timed to hurt the prospects of his Labor Party ahead of European Parliament elections in June.

Muscat took to Facebook on Tuesday to claim that authorities “I decided to mutilate” for him “Without even a question” for him. Verne also claimed on Wednesday that he did so “You're never far from breaking the law.”

Malta is rated as a “flawed democracy” in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. It received 51 points out of 100 for the year 2023 on a scale from 0 (very corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

The European Union is no stranger to corruption scandals. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is currently being investigated for corruption in connection with the procurement of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines during the coronavirus pandemic. Elsewhere, Peter Casimir, governor of the Slovak National Bank and member of the European Central Bank's board, defends bribery charges. Former Latvian central bank governor Ilmars Remcevic was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption in December.

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