The Malta Independent 30 September 2023, Saturday
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PM says he will not comment on Ciantar suspension so as not to prejudice case

Semira Abbas Shalan Friday, 2 June 2023, 17:45 Last update: about 5 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela said Friday that he will not comment on the self-suspension of the CEO of the Foundation for Medical Services so as not to prejudice the case or influence the investigation.

Speaking to journalists after taking part in the State of the Nation conference organized by the Office of the President, Abela said that the FMS CEO, Carmen Ciantar, today took another step when she announced that she wants to give her testimony before the magistrate who is investigating the three hospitals’ deal.

Abela said that, as he has done in other circumstances, he will not be commenting on the case. Once she decided to go before the magistrate, who will now have to decide whether to accept her testimony, “any other comment would be superfluous”.

He said that upon his return to Malta after commitments abroad, this morning he had spoken to Health Minister Chris Fearne about the situation. “I have full confidence in him,” Abela said.

Carmen Ciantar on Wednesday 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. Ciantar is denying the claim and has asked the police commissioner to investigate and this morning filed an application to give her testimony to the magistrate holding an inquiry into the deal to transfer three public hospitals to be run by Vitals, a concession that was later passed on to Steward Health Care.

Asked about statistics which show an increase in the number of people who are in a worse financial situation than they were last year, Abela said that the government has implemented measures which have contained the rise in inflation. This includes the subsidization of energy and fuel prices.



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