Ram Tu­mu­luri hopes the na­tives are dumber in Malta than they were in Bri­tish Columbia

Af­ter slip­ping and slid­ing away from what they clearly con­sider to be me­dia in­tru­sion into their plots and schemes to wrest a sinecure of hun­dreds of mil­lions of eu­ros a year for 30 years, from the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment, the shady and mys­te­ri­ous peo­ple who l

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Oh, hang on, they didn’t quite do that. Tu­mu­luri was sched­uled to speak at a half-day sem­i­nar on health­care, news­rooms got hold of the pro­gramme and went there and nabbed him. The most we can say for him at this stage is that un­like Prime Min­is­ter Mus­cat, he didn’t leave by the back­door to give them the slip.

Tu­mu­luri was asked what his out­fit – well, the out­fit he fronts – is up to in Mon­tene­gro, a coun­try not known for its trans­parency and fair play. The news por­tals in Mon­tene­gro were plas­tered with sto­ries about how its pub­lic hospi­tals are go­ing to be handed over to Vi­tals Global Health­care and how Ram Tu­mu­luri has been mak­ing pre­sen­ta­tions to that ef­fect. De­spite the rather dif­fi­cult lan­guage bar­rier, those sto­ries made it back home to Malta – the in­ter­net and Google Trans­late make the lives of the crooked a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult th­ese days – and jour­nal­ists in Malta and Mon­tene­gro have be­gun ex­chang­ing in­for­ma­tion.

Vi­tals Global Health­care has not yet signed on a deal in Mon­tene­gro, Tu­mu­luri said to the jour­nal­ists who cor­nered him at the sem­i­nar. “We just gave a pre­sen­ta­tion,” he said. You know, for the sheer hell of it. And then he said, very oddly, “We have done our due dili­gence on Mon­tene­gro, and we felt the coun­try re­quires in­vest­ment in health­care, which is no se­cret.” There are plenty of coun­tries which re­quire more in­vest­ment in health­care. In fact, ev­ery coun­try in the world does, in­clud­ing the fabled United States of Amer­ica. But they’re not all on the list of the world’s most cor­rupt, and nor are their gov­ern­ments led by men who have had the du­bi­ous ac­co­lade of be­ing named Or­gan­ised Crime and Cor­rup­tion Re­port­ing Project’s Man of the Year 2015. As for Tu­mu­luri, of all peo­ple, talk­ing about the due dili­gence his out­fit car­ries out on oth­ers, and com­pletely with­out irony, it makes you won­der whether he spends his days marvel­ling at his ex­tra­or­di­nary luck in fall­ing straight from Cana­dian law­suit and cred­i­tor hell onto an is­land where the na­tives re­gard all in­com­ing for­eign scam­mers as though they were Cap­tain Cook bear­ing trunks full of glass beads and cheap bolts of cloth to ex­change for their ter­ri­tory.

As I sit here and write this piece, I strug­gle with the words VI­TALS GLOBAL HEALTH­CARE. I feel ridicu­lous even spell­ing them out, and I’m not even re­spon­si­ble for the name. How in heaven do those peo­ple – yes, even the sup­pos­edly se­ri­ous doc­tors and sur­geons who have nailed their colours to Ram Tu­mu­luri’s mast – say VI­TALS GLOBAL HEALTH­CARE with a straight face? This is the equiv­a­lent of some­body de­cid­ing to start a news­pa­per or ra­dio sta­tion in Malta and, be­fore they even have the one news­pa­per or ra­dio sta­tion on this toe­nail is­land, in­cor­po­rat­ing a suit­case com­pany and call­ing it MER­CURY GLOBAL ME­DIA COR­PO­RA­TION.

I mean, re­ally – that bunch of denizens of the shad­ow­lands have never man­aged a sin­gle hospi­tal, clinic or phar­macy wait­ing-room, ever, and al­ready they’re call­ing them­selves Vi­tals Global Health­care, and we’re all ex­pected to say it too and not laugh.

David Thake pulled off a scoop for his fledg­ling ra­dio sta­tion the day be­fore yes­ter­day when he tracked down and got a tele­phone in­ter­view with a di­rec­tor of one of the mort­gage com­pa­nies that had to fore­close on Ram Tu­mu­luri’s as­sets. “I wouldn’t trust that man as far as I can throw him,” Bill Walker said. “I wouldn’t touch him. Ev­ery busi­ness he’s been in­volved in around here has failed. He cre­ated a mess and just walked away from it. I think you may be right in sus­pect­ing he’s in­volved in shady busi­ness out in Malta. That’s ex­actly the sort of guy he is.”

But he’s good enough for Kon­rad Mizzi, Keith Schem­bri, Joseph Mus­cat and, I’ll bet, John Dalli, to do busi­ness with. In fact, he’s ex­actly what they want.

We can’t ig­nore what’s star­ing us in the face; jour­nal­ists above all should not miss the ob­vi­ous, be­cause the ob­vi­ous is the start­ing-point and the stick­ing-point. And the ob­vi­ous is this: ex­actly what is Ram Tu­mu­luri do­ing in this set-up, given that he has no money to in­vest (that much we have es­tab­lished), no ex­pe­ri­ence in health­care, and a track record of in­sol­vency, debt and failed busi­nesses in Bri­tish Columbia? Why, in a world full of ex­pe­ri­enced and rep­utable ex­ec­u­tives look­ing for a job, did Mark Paw­ley, the fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tor who is sup­posed to be the sole owner of this fishy band­wagon, pick him? There’s the rub.

Tu­mu­luri has fi­nally been forced to ad­mit that he met with the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment be­fore the whole thing went out to ten­der. I had re­ported as early as March last year that not only had he ac­tu­ally reached an agree­ment with the gov­ern­ment ahead of the ten­der, and not just held meet­ings, but that he was also meet­ing po­ten­tial sup­pli­ers and telling them quite def­i­nitely that he would be run­ning the pub­lic hospi­tals. This was way ahead of the (fake) ten­der.

Tu­mu­luri told jour­nal­ists on Fri­day: “The Mal­tese gov­ern­ment ap­proached us in New York.” Un­for­tu­nately, no­body thought to ask the fol­low-up ques­tions that burned un­spo­ken: “Who from the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment did you meet with in New York? And when you say ‘us’, who do you mean? Who is ‘us’?” There was no com­pany for the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment to ap­proach back then. Vi­tals Global Health­care (swal­low your laugh­ter) was in­cor­po­rated af­ter they fixed things with Kon­rad Mizzi and the rest of the gang.

And why would our gov­ern­ment ap­proach a loser with an abysmal track record, who had fled Canada be­cause of a moun­tain of debts and busi­ness fail­ure, and a lone Bri­tish fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tor out of Singapore – who hasn’t, and this point should be made, even both­ered to show his face here – to run pub­lic hospi­tals in Malta? Why didn’t the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment ap­proach a hospi­tal man­age­ment cor­po­ra­tion - one that ac­tu­ally spe­cialises in the work?

Oc­cam’s Ra­zor, my dears, Oc­cam’s Ra­zor: Kon­rad, Keith and Joseph (and per­haps John) are not in­ter­ested in hav­ing the best and most ex­pe­ri­enced man­age­ment com­pany pos­si­ble to run Malta’s pub­lic hospi­tals. They’re in­ter­ested in the best deal they can get. And I’ll stop there.

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