Steward Malta Management Limited will have to pay a €36.8 million VAT arrears bill issued by the Commissioner for Revenue in January 2022 after the Civil Court decided on Wednesday against a request by Steward for the bill to be thrown out, arguing the bill was not an executive title.
The case took a number of turns as last October, the court decided to uphold a plea by the Tax Commissioner, at the time Marvin Gaerty, to throw out Steward’s case, arguing that it was not filed in front of the right competent authority, the Administrative Review Tribunal.
Steward subsequently appealed that decision, forcing the case to be heard in Civil Court. Their efforts were to no avail, though, as the Civil Court nevertheless decided against them, confirming that the Commissioner was and still is vested with the executive title to claim the sum of €36,816,847.54.
Steward Malta Management Ltd is the company that was tasked with running and overhauling three state hospitals in the infamous ‘fraudulent’ public-private partnership, which was thrown out by the courts last February, leading to a deluge of revelations on the company and politicians behind the deal.
A joint investigation between The Shift, Times of Malta, and the OCCRP revealed how Investors behind the Vitals-Steward public hospitals’ spent millions of euros living the high life while the hospitals under their care went virtually ignored.
The investigation also revealed that the original hospitals deal concessionaire, former Vitals Global Healthcare director Ram Tumuluri, claimed in an official disclosure to the US authorities that he was threatened repeatedly by former Office of the Prime Minister chief of staff Keith Schembri and others that he would meet the same end as journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia if he didn’t sign the hospitals’ concession over to Steward Healthcare.
An analysis by The Shift in March showed how a number of government enablers either gave the illicit contracts their stamp of approval or looked the other way when they had been duty-bound to raise the alarm.
Steward’s case contesting the tax bill was heard in front of Judge Robert G. Mangion, with the appeal to the Tax Commissioner’s plea heard by Mark Chetcuti, Giannino Caruana Demajo, and Anthony Ellul.
The court sentence is available here.