A €30m tender for an integrated health information system at Malta’s new Mater Dei Hospital has been suspended following an allegation that a ministry for IT (MITTS) official passed on commercially confidential award information to one of the two consortia competing for the contract.

A statement from the MITTS department released on Tuesday confirmed that the Mater Dei IT contract evaluation had been suspended pending police investigations.

According to maltastar.com, a MITTS employee, subsequently identified by the paper as Noel Xuereb, allegedly passed sensitive information to one of the two final bidders – AME/Inso Ltd and iSoft.

The Mater Dei hospital health information system procurement evaluation had reached its final stages, after a technical evaluation committee set up by government delayed the awarding of the tender by more than six months.

The committee issued a statement expressing "suspicion that sensitive information could have been communicated to one bidder during the call for tenders, without authorisation."

MITTS said an employee was helping the police with its investigations. The Malta Star reported that the Sliema-based offices of AME/Inso have been raided and their PCs confiscated by investigators.

The IT minister Austin Gaff was told of the allegation and informed the prime minister, Lawrence Gonzi who referred the case to the police for an official investigation.

All MITTS employees have been given gagging orders and are not authorised to speak with the press or raise the issue amongst their colleagues. The identity of the suspected employee remains anonymous.

No parties have been charged by police at the time of going to print.

Malta’s new Mater Dei hospital is due to start admitting patients from July 2007.