Health minister Chris Fearne travelled to Boston today for a meeting with Steward Healthcare
US firm Steward Health Care, which last month took control of the St Luke’s, Karin Grech and Gozo General hospitals, has maintained a contract which grants exclusive rights to medical supply firm Technoline to manage the hospital supply chain pending an extensive review.
“With the purchase of Vitals Global Healthcare [VGH], our company took on many contracts and obligations entered into by the previous ownership, including agreements with Technoline,” a spokesperson for Steward told Lovin Malta. “We are honouring all obligations that are proper and lawful, whilst working on a detailed review of all contracts to make sure the Maltese people get the best value out of the concession agreement.”
By virtue of a contract signed by Steward’s predecessors VGH, all procurement of medical supplies at St Luke’s, Karin Grech Hospital and GGH is being handled by Technoline. The deal has angered other medical supply firms, as it forces them to submit all bids for equipment at the three hospitals to a competitor.
The contract was signed in July 2017, three months after Technoline was fully acquired by Ivan Vassallo, the company’s former sales and marketing manager. Vassallo refused to confirm how he managed to obtain the money to buy out Technoline’s shareholders, but records show he procured €4.25 million in loans from Bank of Valletta in September 2017.
MFSA documents list Yaser Ali Badar as director and legal representative of Technoline, along with Vassallo. Badar is registered as living in the same Tigne apartment as one of Vitals’ Pakistani investors Shaukat Ali Chaudry, and the two are believed to be related to each other.
Questioned by Lovin Malta, Vassallo said he has been friends with Badar for around two years, but doesn’t think there is any connection between him and Vitals.