NAO contradicts Keith Schembri’s sworn claim he was only contacted last Monday

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The National Audit Office has contradicted a claim Keith Schembri made in an affidavit, stating that it delivered correspondence to him a week before he claimed to have received it.

In his affidavit, Schembri, the former chief of staff of Joseph Muscat, sought to deny any involvement in the drafting and execution of the MOU regarding the Vitals hospitals concession.

After seeing the MOU – which had gone missing when it published its initial damning report on the deal – the NAO said it stood by its initial assertions, deeming the process “staged and deceitful.”

But Schembri also claimed to have received a letter by the NAO on Monday, 27 July, in which he was asked to answer questions by 24 July, and insisted that the office made no effort to contact him beforehand.

This assertion led the NAO to issue a statement to the press, stating that it made various attempts to contact Schembri by telephone as soon as his involvement in the MoU was brought to its attention. Efforts to obtain Schembri’s email address proved fruitless, leaving the NAO with no option but to use physical mail.

But it said that it delivered a letter by hand to Schembri’s residence on 21 July, and that the same letter was sent by registered post a day later.

An affidavit is a sworn statement made under penalty of perjury: any false statements within are punishable by imprisonment.

Earlier on Wednesday, Schembri was described by Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo – who was testifying in the Daphne inquiry – as leading a “shadow government” when he was Muscat’s right-hand man.