The Malta Independent 18 October 2021, Monday

Ram Tumuluri hopes the natives are dumber in Malta than they were in British Columbia

Daphne Caruana Galizia Sunday, 6 November 2016, 11:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

After slipping and sliding away from what they clearly consider to be media intrusion into their plots and schemes to wrest a sinecure of hundreds of millions of euros a year for 30 years, from the Maltese government, the shady and mysterious people who lurk in the shadows of Vitals Global Healthcare pushed their stooge, Ram Tumuluri, out front on Friday to face journalists. Oh, hang on, they didn’t quite do that. Tumuluri was scheduled to speak at a half-day seminar on healthcare, newsrooms got hold of the programme and went there and nabbed him. The most we can say for him at this stage is that unlike Prime Minister Muscat, he didn’t leave by the backdoor to give them the slip.

Tumuluri was asked what his outfit – well, the outfit he fronts – is up to in Montenegro, a country not known for its transparency and fair play. The news portals in Montenegro were plastered with stories about how its public hospitals are going to be handed over to Vitals Global Healthcare and how Ram Tumuluri has been making presentations to that effect. Despite the rather difficult language barrier, those stories made it back home to Malta – the internet and Google Translate make the lives of the crooked a little more difficult these days – and journalists in Malta and Montenegro have begun exchanging information.

Vitals Global Healthcare has not yet signed on a deal in Montenegro, Tumuluri said to the journalists who cornered him at the seminar. “We just gave a presentation,” he said. You know, for the sheer hell of it. And then he said, very oddly, “We have done our due diligence on Montenegro, and we felt the country requires investment in healthcare, which is no secret.” There are plenty of countries which require more investment in healthcare. In fact, every country in the world does, including the fabled United States of America. But they’re not all on the list of the world’s most corrupt, and nor are their governments led by men who have had the dubious accolade of being named Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project’s Man of the Year 2015. As for Tumuluri, of all people, talking about the due diligence his outfit carries out on others, and completely without irony, it makes you wonder whether he spends his days marvelling at his extraordinary luck in falling straight from Canadian lawsuit and creditor hell onto an island where the natives regard all incoming foreign scammers as though they were Captain Cook bearing trunks full of glass beads and cheap bolts of cloth to exchange for their territory.

As I sit here and write this piece, I struggle with the words VITALS GLOBAL HEALTHCARE. I feel ridiculous even spelling them out, and I’m not even responsible for the name. How in heaven do those people – yes, even the supposedly serious doctors and surgeons who have nailed their colours to Ram Tumuluri’s mast – say VITALIS GLOBAL HEALTHCARE with a straight face? This is the equivalent of somebody deciding to start a newspaper or radio station in Malta and, before they even have the one newspaper or radio station on this toenail island, incorporating a suitcase company and calling it MERCURY GLOBAL MEDIA CORPORATION.

I mean, really – that bunch of denizens of the shadowlands have never managed a single hospital, clinic or pharmacy waiting-room, ever, and already they’re calling themselves Vitalis Global Healthcare, and we’re all expected to say it too and not laugh.

David Thake pulled off a scoop for his fledgling radio station the day before yesterday when he tracked down and got a telephone interview with a director of one of the mortgage companies that had to foreclose on Ram Tumuluri’s assets. “I wouldn’t trust that man as far as I can throw him,” Bill Walker said. “I wouldn’t touch him. Every business he’s been involved in around here has failed. He created a mess and just walked away from it. I think you may be right in suspecting he’s involved in shady business out in Malta. That’s exactly the sort of guy he is.”

But he’s good enough for Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri, Joseph Muscat and, I’ll bet, John Dalli, to do business with. In fact, he’s exactly what they want.

We can’t ignore what’s staring us in the face; journalists above all should not miss the obvious, because the obvious is the starting-point and the sticking-point. And the obvious is this: exactly what is Ram Tumuluri doing in this set-up, given that he has no money to invest (that much we have established), no experience in healthcare, and a track record of insolvency, debt and failed businesses in British Columbia? Why, in a world full of experienced and reputable executives looking for a job, did Mark Pawley, the financial operator who is supposed to be the sole owner of this fishy bandwagon, pick him? There’s the rub.

Tumuluri has finally been forced to admit that he met with the Maltese government before the whole thing went out to tender. I had reported as early as March last year that not only had he actually reached an agreement with the government ahead of the tender, and not just held meetings, but that he was also meeting potential suppliers and telling them quite definitely that he would be running the public hospitals. This was way ahead of the (fake) tender.

Tumuluri told journalists on Friday: “The Maltese government approached us in New York.” Unfortunately, nobody thought to ask the follow-up questions that burned unspoken: “Who from the Maltese government did you meet with in New York? And when you say ‘us’, who do you mean? Who is ‘us’?” There was no company for the Maltese government to approach back then. Vitals Global Healthcare (swallow your laughter) was incorporated after they fixed things with Konrad Mizzi and the rest of the gang.

And why would our government approach a loser with an abysmal track record, who had fled Canada because of a mountain of debts and business failure, and a lone British financial operator out of Singapore – who hasn’t, and this point should be made, even bothered to show his face here – to run public hospitals in Malta? Why didn’t the Maltese government approach a hospital management corporation - one that actually specialises in the work?

Occam’s Razor, my dears, Occam’s Razor: Konrad, Keith and Joseph (and perhaps John) are not interested in having the best and most experienced management company possible to run Malta’s public hospitals. They’re interested in the best deal they can get. And I’ll stop there.

www.daphnecaruanagalizia.com

 

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