MALTA - The model for the privatisation of Malta’s public hospitals negotiated by now disgraced Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, with the approval of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, was exported to Balkan States with weak democratic structures that enable large-scale corruption.
A cross-border investigation discovered the revolving door between Vitals Global Healthcare (that reneged on the deal in Malta after walking away with over €50 million of Maltese taxpayer money) and Steward Healthcare (the US Healthcare company that swept in to ‘save the day’ in Malta and taking on the contract). A team consisting of Maltese, Albanian and German journalists reveals members of both these organisations working together in the Balkan States to replicate a scandalous deal in Malta that has led to three Ministers being under criminal investigation.
The first story in the series, PPP By Stealth: Hospitals For Sale, introduces the audience to Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) and its track record in Malta, as uncovered by The Shift News. It explains the massive losses incurred at the detriment of the Maltese tax payer, and shows, that now the deal is the subject of a criminal investigation. Three team members - Caroline Muscat, Alice Taylor and Ryan Murdock - revealed that VGH, now bought out by Steward Healthcare for just EUR 1 had been using its Malta ‘success story’ to get more deals in some of Europe’s poorest and most corrupted countries. Through a complex web of Memorandums of Understanding, including one discovered by Alice Taylor in Albania, VGH/Steward appears to be paving the way to pull a similar scam elsewhere.
Following the Memorandum’s of Understanding signed between Montenegro and VGH/Steward and then Montenegro and Albania that would allow them to sign deals with the government undetected, changes needed to be made to the way hospitals in Albania are managed. A new draft law discovered by the investigation creates a regulatory regime where private hospitals can become a part of the national health services and benefit from state funding, as well as money raised through PPPs. This fact combined with repeated visits from VGH/Steward investors Ram Tumulari and Shaukat Ali Abdul Gafoor, suggests that things are moving forward whilst the Albanian public is none the wiser.
Photo: The trail by the people behind Vitals Global Healthcare and now Steward Healthcare stretches across Eastern Europe and beyond
@ Caroline Muscat
- The big pay off: A key hidden investor in Vitals Global Healthcare - The Shift News (Malta), 24 October 2019;
- Exporting fraud: How a scam on public hospitals in Malta reached the poorest, most corrupt European countries - The Shift News (Malta), 5 December 2019;
- PPP by Stealth: Hospitals for Sale - Exit.al (Albania), 30 November 2019;
- PPP by Stealth: A New Draft Law - Exit.al (Albania), 20 December 2019;
- Ubijenu novinarku interesovali i Đukanovićevi poslovi - Dan online (Montenegro), 30 January, 2020;
- PPP By Stealth: North Macedonia, a disgraced ex-Prime Minister, and Rama’s Healthcare Propaganda - Exit.al (Albania), 31 January, 2020;
- Raw deal: Exporting a healthcare model that’s ‘designed to fail’ - The Shift News (Malta), 3 February, 2020.