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

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.”

Ram Tu­mu­luri

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