Mark Pawley, the new owner of three privatised hospitals in Malta.Mark Pawley, the new owner of three privatised hospitals in Malta.

Mark Pawley, the CEO of Oxley Capital and the owner of three recently privatised hospitals in Malta, has defended his company’s lack of medical experience.

Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) recently named Mr Pawley as the ultimate owner of the hospitals.

VGH is owned by the Singapore-based Oxley Capital through a complex structure involving three other companies, two of which are registered in the British Virgin Islands. It has taken over running the Gozo, St Luke’s and Karin Grech Hospitals, in a deal that is worth €1.6 billion over a 30-year concession period.

Speaking to The Sunday Times of Malta, Mr Pawley admitted that the medical venture in Malta was the ‘global’ company’s first.

He said VGH was designed to be scalable in its business model and structure. “We do believe that public-private partnerships are a solid and sustainable model for healthcare improvement and that it will be an interesting model for other governments as well”.

Mr Pawley pointed out VGH had forged a number of international partnerships, including with Partners Healthcare International, which is based in the United States, and Barts University, based in London. He said the group had been actively looking at investing in various areas of healthcare for a significant period of time, in Asia and Europe.

Explaining how the group first came across Malta, Mr Pawley said in 2014 one of their representatives was in New York and was invited to attend a presentation about investing in Malta.

They will see this project take off and achieve the results we and the government have aimed for since conception

Mr Pawley said Malta’s geographical position and climate made it ideal for both medical tourism and rehabilitation.

“In summary, it appeared to be a good place to build our healthcare platform.

“Following this presentation in New York, we became even more interested and conducted a fact-finding trip to Malta to learn more about the landscape and the opportunity. Like any serious investor would, we did bring a number of highly qualified US physicians as content experts in healthcare with us. Their input has also contributed significantly to where we are today,” he said.

The tender for running the hospitals was first publicly advertised in March 2015. Heavily redacted versions of the contracts signed with the company were only presented in Parliament last month.

One of VGH’s directors, Ram Tumuluri, has come under scrutiny for his past business dealings. Mr Pawley said that the “excessive criticism” of Mr Tumuluri was unfounded.

“Contrary to these claims in Malta, I have found his professionalism and business conduct across multiple projects to be of very high quality, and I am proud to call him my partner.

“Ram has moved his entire family to Malta to ensure this project is successful, has put up with major unfounded personal attacks and yet has managed to keep focused on the job at hand. I have nothing but respect, admiration and support for what Ram and the team are achieving in Malta,” Mr Pawley said.

He said Mr Tumuluri’s role in VGH was always that of a director and it was always the plan to bring in a skilled management team to run the operation.

“I have no doubt that they will see this project take off and achieve the results we and the government have aimed for since conception,” Mr Pawley said.

Vitals categorically denies allegations

In a separate statement, Vitals has categorically denied all media allegations of wrongdoing against its director Ram Tumuluri.

They relate specifically to allegations that Mr Tumuluri is wanted or being investigated for fraud or of pending cases in relation to his past business ventures.

“Vitals Global Healthcare regularly carries out due diligence investigations on all its executives and directors.

“To date, all due diligence carried out on Mr Tumuluri has been clean and contains none of the aforementioned allegations,” the company said.

Vitals said that fact-checking and basic due diligence rules should be observed, rather than plainly repeating unsubstantiated accusations from questionable sources leading to reputational damage for people and organisations.

Mr Tumuluri, the company added, will continue to play a pivotal role as director within the organisation, contributing to VGH’s continued growth and success in the world of health delivery.

The Nationalist Party has said the hospital contracts are riddled with “coincidences” and “stink” of corruption.

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