The Malta Independent 13 July 2024, Saturday
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FMS CEO tenders ‘suspension’ to fight bribery allegations

Thursday, 1 June 2023, 05:21 Last update: about 2 years ago

Carmen Ciantar has tendered her “suspension” from the post of CEO at the Foundation for Medical Services after a Pakistani news portal report claiming that she had received a bribe.

The Health Ministry on Wednesday published correspondence from Ciantar saying she was taking the decision in the interests of the ministry but should in no way mean that this is “an admission of guilt”.

Ciantar was reacting to a news report published in Pakistan that alleged she had received thousands of euros in payments from a company linked to Vitals Global Healthcare.

Daily Pakistan reported on Wednesday that Ciantar received several payments totalling €443,500 from Gozo International Medicare Ltd between October 2015 and February 2016.

The news portal claimed that the information came from leaked banking documents, which indicated there were at least 15 invoices submitted to Gozo International Medicare by Ciantar.

Before her “suspension”, earlier in the day, Ciantar had flatly refuted the allegations in comments to MaltaToday. “The allegation is totally and absolutely untrue. I will definitely reserve all my rights at law to defend my integrity and I will proceed with all measures available at law to defend my reputation and integrity against anyone who publicizes it.”

Late on Wednesday, the Department of Information published an email Ciantar sent to Health Minister Chris Fearne in which she announced her “suspension” to be able to defend herself.

Her email reads: “Following the media report I am tendering my suspension to be in a position to defend my position. I will definitely reserve my rights at law through my legal counsel. I am doing this in the interest of the ministry and the government and this decision is in no shape or form any admission of guilt on my part. I will take all my legal measures at my disposal to defend my name and my integrity.”

Gozo International Medicare, a now defunct company, was owned by Crossrange Holdings Ltd and had as its directors Mark Pawley and Walajahi Mohammad Shoaib. The ultimate beneficiary owners of Crossrange Holdings, including Pawley and Ram Tumuluri, went on to form Vitals Global Healthcare, the company that was awarded a controversial concession to run three public hospitals – St Luke’s, Karin Grech and Gozo General.

Ciantar was appointed CEO of FMS, the government entity that manages healthcare facilities, in July 2016 by Chris Fearne, who became health minister in April of that year instead of Konrad Mizzi.

Mizzi had been removed from of his energy and health portfolios after Daphne Caruana Galizia revealed that he owned a company in Panama along with Keith Schembri.

Ciantar was Fearne’s campaign manager in his bid to secure the Labour Party leadership in January 2020.

 

 

 

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