It’s Right Thing to Do — Deputy PM of Malta Chris Fearne Resigns Over Fraud Scandal

Chris Fearne Resigns Over Fraud Scandal

Malta’s Deputy Prime Minister, Chris Fearne, tendered his resignation on Friday amidst allegations of fraud in a hospital privatization scandal.

Fearne, previously considered a potential candidate for the role of European Commissioner, stepped down after being charged in connection with the scandal, which has sent shockwaves through the Mediterranean island nation.

In his resignation letter addressed to Prime Minister Robert Abela, Fearne stated, “I want to be clear, I am taking this step not because I have any doubts about my innocence, but because this is the right thing to do.”

He also requested the withdrawal of his name for consideration as European Commissioner.

Fearne, who denies any wrongdoing, emphasized his commitment to serving his country and expressed hope for an expedited judicial process to clear his name. Despite the charges, Fearne remains a member of parliament.

In the resignation letter, which he published on Facebook, Fearne slammed the charges against him as “unjust” and said proof of his wrongdoing was “inexistent” but he felt a duty to the country to resign.

“The only thing that I humbly hope for is that the judicial process is led in an expedited manner so that I can clean my name as quickly as possible, and so I can be in a position to serve my country if I am called upon again,” he stated.

Prime Minister Abela, expressing his full faith in Fearne, urged him to reconsider his resignation. However, Fearne stood firm in his decision, citing a duty to the country.

The scandal dates back to 2015 when Malta’s Labour government, led by former premier Joseph Muscat, decided to transfer management of three public hospitals to a private company, Vitals Global Healthcare.

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Following a challenge by the opposition Nationalist party, a court last year annulled the privatisation deal, finding evidence of fraudulent behaviour.

A criminal investigation was launched in 2019. It concluded last month with the magistrate recommending that charges be brought.

Fearne is not the only official implicated in the scandal. Muscat, along with his former minister Konrad Mizzi, faces charges of accepting bribes, corruption, and money laundering.

Meanwhile, Edward Scicluna, the governor of Malta’s Central Bank at the time of the deal, has also been charged with fraud and misappropriation. Though he has not commented on the charges.