PN wants par­lia­men­tary scru­tiny of VGH con­tracts, asks if Ram Tu­mu­luri was vet­ted

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The Na­tion­al­ist Party said yes­ter­day it will ask the Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee on Health to go through all the hospi­tal pri­vati­sa­tion doc­u­ments be­cause there were too many co­in­ci­dences and the whole deal “stinks of cor­rup­tion”.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence, Health Shadow Min­is­ter Claudette But­tigieg said the way things un­folded raised sus­pi­cions.

She noted how Ram Tu­mu­luri had reg­is­tered three VGH (Vi­tals Global Health­care) com­pa­nies in Malta days be­fore they were short­listed by the govern­ment in a sup­posed com­pet­i­tive ex­er­cise. Then, two days af­ter the govern­ment signed the hos­pi­tals agree­ment with VGH, Mos­sack Fon­seca’s Malta agent gave the go-ahead for the open­ing of se­cret bank ac­counts for Kon­rad Mizzi and Keith Schem­bri. This af­ter they had been told that they would need to make an ini­tial de­posit of $1 mil­lion.

“The VGH com­pany struc­ture is like a box within a box within a box,” Mrs But­tigieg said, point­ing out that the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cial own­ers were un­known.

Gozo Shadow Min­is­ter Chris Said added that the govern­ment will be pay­ing VGH €55 mil­lion a year for at least 30 years. It had now emerged that the govern­ment had ap­proached Ox­ley Cap­i­tal Group, whose CEO Mark Paw­ley is, ac­cord­ing to VGH of­fi­cials, the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cial owner of Vi­tals. Dr Said said Mr Tu­mu­luri had boasted, months be­fore the ten­der was is­sued, that Ox­ley would be op­er­at­ing the three hos­pi­tals.

“Who is the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cial owner? Is it Mark Paw­ley per­son­ally or Ox­ley? And if it is the lat­ter, is the com­pany act­ing on other, un­known in­vestors?”

He said in­for­ma­tion re­vealed in the past few days showed that Ram Tu­mu­luri was a busi­ness per­son who could not be trusted, yet the govern­ment was choos­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with him di­rectly.

Gen­eral elec­tion can­di­date David Thake said he has ob­tained doc­u­ments that showed that Ram Tu­mu­luri had failed to carry out his du­ties as the di­rec­tor of a Cana­dian hos­pi­tal­ity com­pany – T&V Hos­pi­tal­ity. This in­cluded fail­ure to see that tax was paid. “Mr Tu­mu­luri also cleared out de­posits that had been paid by cus­tomers for Christ­mas hol­i­days,” Mr Thake said.

Ram Tu­mu­luri, he said, had sim­ply walked away when the com­pany was about to go bust. “Fil­ing for bank­ruptcy is ex­pen­sive and Ram Tu­mu­luri did not want to pay that money, so he just walked away. He did the same thing in an­other case as well.”

“Did the govern­ment carry out a due dili­gence ex­er­cise on Ram Tu­mu­luri? If it did, how did it not find out what I man­aged to learn in just two weeks? And if it did, why is it trust­ing him with the pro­ject?

Claudette But­tigieg said the PN will write to MP Eti­enne Grech, the chair­man of the Health Com­mit­tee, with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

Re­ply­ing to ques­tions she said she did not ex­clude that Ram Tu­mu­luri would be sum­moned to tes­tify but ex­plained that the com­mit­tee would be re­spon­si­ble to de­cide which wit­nesses to hear.

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