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