Steward Health Care Malta (SHCM) has hit back at the Maltese Government in a strongly worded press release where it said that it has given notice that it is terminating the agreements through which it took control of three state hospitals.

The release referred to the Services Concession Agreement “and related contractual framework”.

Replying to a question posed by BusinessNow.mt, the company confirmed that this includes the Labour Supply Agreement and the Health Services Delivery Agreement.

On Wednesday (yesterday), Steward appealed the court judgement that nullified the agreements and found its behaviour to be “fraudulent” and “possibly criminal”.

In its latest statement, the private health operator did not hold back from slamming Malta for what it described as “deterioration of the business environment”.

It assured patients and staff that there would be an orderly transition, saying it will work with the relevant authorities in good faith to ensure this is finalised in a reasonable timeframe.

“SHCM and its parent company, Steward Health Care International (SHCI), have operated at all times in accordance with the highest professional standards and values, including a desire for good governance and transparency.”

The company said it is “disappointed at the Government of Malta’s failure throughout this engagement to keep faith with the spirit of the public-private partnership agreement”.

“Specifically, the Government failed to be accountable for their own liabilities, which had escaped scrutiny; failed to adhere to their own promises to renegotiate the ‘unbankable’ and unsustainable terms of the concession, not once but three times – and more recently being engaged in negotiations up to the time of the verdict; and, therefore, failed to enable Steward to raise finances to deliver fully on the terms of its engagement.”

Turning its sights on Malta, SHCI said it is “concerned about the deterioration of the business environment in Malta.”

It said that there is “a lack of support for and protection of foreign investors”, adding that its concerns have “been mirrored by the recent presence of Malta on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which identified serious structural deficiencies in Malta’s governance and regulation that do not accord with SHCI’s own values.”

“More recently,” it continued, “the Government’s failure to appeal the Civil Court verdict that labelled its own behaviour corrupt is an admission of guilt in relation to its own governance failings.

The company’s exit from Malta, it said, will allow Steward and its management “to focus resources on jurisdictions that are more accommodating to and protective of investors, and more aligned with its high standards.“

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