Shocking Revelations Unveiled: Corruption, Threats, and the Elusive €100 Million

Shocking Revelations Unveiled: Corruption, Threats, and the Elusive €100 Million

In a mesmerizing saga of deceit and betrayal, allegations of trade secrets, death threats, and political connivance have rocked the foundations of Malta’s hospitals agreement with VGH (Vitals Global Healthcare) and its successor, Steward Health Care. It appears that while the public’s trust was being eroded, certain individuals were busy lining their pockets and manipulating the system to their advantage.

Enter Ram Tumuluri, the whistleblower who dared to expose the dark underbelly of this sordid affair. Tumuluri claims that during discussions surrounding the transfer of the hospitals’ concession to Steward, his former right-hand man, Armin Ernst, utilized trade secrets to aid the Maltese government in circumventing the €100 million termination penalty—an ominous warning sign of the corruption that lay beneath the surface.

The year 2019 witnessed the widening of the pay-out clause, incorporating an additional €36 million loan facility through Bank of Valletta, intended for the construction of the Barts Medical School in Gozo. Furthermore, the €100 million termination penalty, initially tied to a government default, was expanded to include the possibility of court intervention to revoke the concession. Little did anyone suspect that this labyrinthine web of agreements would unravel in February when the courts deemed the entire arrangement fraudulent, annulling the concession and its associated clauses.

Tumuluri’s disclosure, shared with The Shift, The Times of Malta, and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, paints a chilling picture of the threats he allegedly faced. He claims that former OPM chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and others warned him of dire consequences reminiscent of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s tragic fate if he failed to acquiesce and transfer the hospitals’ concession to Steward.

In a jaw-dropping affidavit submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Tumuluri recounts a pivotal meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister, where he confronted Schembri regarding the €100 million side agreement signed with former minister Konrad Mizzi. Schembri’s chilling response, according to Tumuluri, encapsulated the depths of his power: “I am the law in Malta.” He brazenly declared that no agreement could safeguard Tumuluri’s interests, warning him to be cautious or face the wrath of the government.

Tumuluri’s filing further accuses the government and Armin Ernst, who played dual roles within VGH and Steward, of colluding with government officials to prevent him from claiming the €100 million payout. Ernst stands accused of unlawfully disclosing Tumuluri’s trade secrets to Steward, in direct violation of the confidentiality and non-disclosure provisions set forth in the concession agreement. This act of treachery provided Steward with an unfair advantage during negotiations and ultimately deprived Tumuluri of his rightful stake in the agreement.

The repercussions of these clandestine actions extended beyond Malta’s shores. Tumuluri alleges that Steward, armed with his confidential information, utilized it to negotiate agreements with governments in other countries, including Croatia, Montenegro, and Macedonia—an international web of deception spun from the loom of corruption.

Amidst a labyrinthine trail of deceit, both Ernst and Schembri have vehemently denied the allegations leveled against them. However, the shadow of doubt looms large, casting a pall over the entire affair.

As the truth unravels thread by thread, Malta is left grappling with the scars of corruption, threats, and a vanishing €100 million. Will justice be served, or will this murky tale of malfeasance remain yet another chapter in the annals of impunity?



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