Mark Pawley, man identified as owner of VGH, defends choice of Ram Tumuluri as director
● ‘I have found his professionalism and business conduct across multiple projects to be of very high quality’ ● Names of company and Malta Enterprise representatives who met prior to call for applications still unknown
Mark Pawley, the man who Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) officials have identified as the ultimate beneficial owner of the company and is also the CEO of Oxley Capital Group, has come out in strong defence of VGH Director Ram Tumuluri, after local media reports about his past dealings in Canada have brought up questions as to his capability of being a Director in such a major project.
In one such example, David Thake called a Canadian venture capitalist that previously had dealings with Mr Tumuluri. The venture capitalist said that “there is a big lawsuit going on in Vancouver as a result of the carnage left behind as a result of Ram’s involvement”. He said that when times got tough, Mr Tumuluri just left.
Others relate to allegations that Mr Tumuluri is being investigated for fraud or of pending cases in relation to past business ventures. VGH have been entrusted with the St Luke’s Hospital, Karen Grech Hospital and Gozo General Hospital projects.
In response to questions sent by The Malta Independent on Sunday, asking why Mr Tumuluri was entrusted with such a position in this project given the reports of his questionable track record in business, Mr Pawley said: “He (Mr Tumuluri) and I have been working closely together for the past six years and during this time we developed a close working relationship. Although particular blogs in Malta have spread rumours about his professional background, I have to say that from my perspective this excessive criticism is unfounded. Contrary to these claims in Malta, I have found his professionalism and business conduct across multiple projects to be of very high quality, and I am proud to call him my partner. Ram has moved his entire family to Malta to ensure this project is successful, has put up with major unfounded personal attacks, and yet has managed to keep focused on the job in hand. I have nothing but respect, admiration and support for what Ram and the team are achieving in Malta.”
He explained that Ram Tumuluri’s role in all of this has always been that of a director, and it has always been the plan to bring in a “highly skilled management team, alongside our world class external partners like Partners Health International”.
This management structure is now up and running, he said, with Dr Armin Ernst as CEO, and includes a mix of local and foreign professionals with a ‘world of experience and talent’.
“I have no doubt that they will see this project take off and achieve the results we and the government have aimed for since its conception”.
Turning to the project itself, Mr Pawley states that his group has been actively looking at investing in various areas of healthcare for a ‘significant amount of time’, in both Asia and Europe.
This newsroom had sent questions to VGH regarding the meeting which took place in New York between persons connected with the project and Malta Enterprise prior to the call for applications which were issued in March 2015, asking who took part in that meeting. VGH officials confirmed that it was Bluestone investments, which is the mother company of VGH and which VGH officials had previously said was owned by Mark Pawley. The VGH officials have not yet, however, responded to questions regarding the identity of those involved in the meeting.
This newsroom also put questions about this meeting to Mr Pawley: Who approached whom with the idea of having some form of project in Malta? Had you met any Maltese officials prior to March 2015? If yes who and when?
The reply from Mr Pawley was: “In 2014 one of our representatives was in New York and was invited to attend a presentation about investing in Malta. Malta has had a long history in healthcare dating back to the Knights of Malta, and has continued that with the pivotal role it played in both World Wars. And clearly the country’s geographical position and climate makes it ideal for both Medical Tourism and Rehabilitation. The Maltese economy was (and is) faring well, while other European countries were still struggling to recover from the economic crisis. In summary, it appeared to be a good place to build our Healthcare platform. Following this presentation in New York, we became even more interested and conducted a fact-finding trip to Malta to learn more about the landscape and the opportunity. Like any serious investor would, we did bring a number of highly quali-
fied US physicians as content experts in healthcare with us. Their input also contributed significantly to where we are today”.
Mr Pawley did not say who the Maltese officials were or who represented his firm.
Turning to Vitals Global Healthcare, Mr Pawley said: “It is correct that Malta is its firstt PPP contract; however, as with all our platforms it is an organization that is designed to be scalable in its business model and structure. We do believe that public-private partnerships are a solid and sustainable model for healthcare improvement and that it will be an interesting model for other governments as well. In line with our international goals are the partnerships we are proud to have forged, including Partners Healthcare International which is based in the United States, and Barts University which is based in London, and others. The international background of the management team being assembled is also reflective of our larger views of healthcare delivery and improvement.”
Mr Pawley did not respond to
the following question: “Where do the funds for the VGH projects in Malta come from?”
Recently, a short term contract between Vitals Global Healthcare and Partners Healthcare International (PHI) was leaked to the media and shows how PHI was on-board to train VGH, helping them build their own expertise and also aiding in other areas such as the development of patient safety standards.
The Ministry of Health in Malta told this newsroom that VGH was confirmed as the preferred bidder on 27 June 2015, while the service concession to VGH was officially awarded on 9 September 2015. Interestingly however, the government – VGH Service Concession agreement tabled in Parliament is dated 30 November 2015, over two months later. The agreement between PHI and VGH was signed on 28 September 2015, and became active on 1 November, 2015. The agreement term was set for 12 months from that date, thus meaning that it has now expired.
VGH officials have confirmed with this newsroom however, that the contract leaked is an old contract. “There is a new agreement in place with PHI which highlights the strong collaboration between Partners Healthcare International and Vitals Global Healthcare. PHI is assisting VGH to implement state-ofthe-art care pathways by consulting in a clinical support rule. They are a partner in the design of robust Quality and Safety Procedures; assist with the necessary policies and procedures to obtain Joint Commission International Accreditation, with hospital governance reviews, and facility design questions. Partners have visited Malta several times and are impressed with the progress being made. A number of nurses have also visited PHI hospitals, taking advantage of opportunities for professional development in Boston. Currently, six healthcare professionals are in Boston; these form part of a care design team for integrated stroke care, which will be new to Malta and directly benefit every patient unfortunate enough to suffer from a stroke related to brain injury.”