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Malta Deputy PM’s aide steps down after leaked documents alleged suspicious payments  

08:48 PM | 1 Jun, 2023
Malta Deputy PM’s aide steps down after leaked documents alleged suspicious payments  

VALLETTA – Senior Malta government official Carmen Ciantar has stepped down after leaked documents revealed she had received several undeclared payments from a company linked to controversial Indian-Canadian businessman Sri Ram Tumuluri, the CEO of UK-based Causis Group.

The payments are linked to a deal in 2015 when Sri Ram Tumuluri’s firm, Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH), won a privatisation tender to manage three hospitals in Malta, St. Luke’s, Karin Grech and Gozo, despite having no relevant experience.

The deal and Tumuluri’s failure to deliver on his commitments have been subject to intense scrutiny in Malta and in Europe.  Tumuluri, whose company recently signed a Rs2,800-crore deal to supply e-buses to India’s Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), is facing fresh allegations of corruption in new leaked papers involving Malta Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne’s aide and senior official Carmen Ciantar.

After leaked documents alleged that Ciantar had received several payments totalling €443,500 from Gozo International Medicare Ltd between October 2015 and February 2016 from Ram Tumuluri’s company, Ciantar initially refuted the allegations as “totally and absolutely untrue”. However, within a couple of hours the Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne’s office announced Ciantar has resigned to be able to defend herself. Ciantar said she was “suspending” herself but claimed this was in no way an admission of guilt.

Investigation revealed that the chief political advisor of Malta’s health minister Chris Fearne received a total of €443,500 Euros from Gozo International Medicare Ltd – part of the Vital Global Healthcare (VGH) group – in less than four months from the firm’s account at the Dubai-headquartered Emirates NBD Bank. It then transferred a €750,000 “loan repayment” into an account at Bordier & Cie Geneva, a Swiss private bank, registered to a Panamanian entity, Glotal Finance Inc., which also referenced Ciantar.

The first of the initial payments, described as travel expenses reimbursements by Ciantar, came six weeks before VGH was granted a 30-year concession to run St. Luke’s, Karin Grech, and Gozo hospitals.

Transaction reference numbers provided in the leaked banking tranche indicate there were at least 15 invoices submitted to Gozo International Medicare by Ciantar – dating between October 6, 2015, and February 25, 2016.

Carmen Ciantar is listed on LinkedIn as CEO at Foundation for Medical Services (FMS), a government entity which manages public healthcare across Malta. At the time of the transfers, she was CEO of ARMS Ltd, government-owned utilities company that came under the remit of disgraced former minister of energy and health Konrad Mizzi. Mizzi was handed a travel ban by the US Government in December 2021 on account of his involvement in “significant corruption”. 
Within a few months of the transfers, according to local daily the Times of Malta, she had gone to work as the head of Fearne’s election campaign – during which time he also appointed her CEO of FMS. 

Fearne, who is now deputy prime minister, was parliamentary secretary state for health in Mizzi’s ministry when VGH was granted the much-criticized 30-year concession on 30 November 2015.
There is no evidence to show that Fearne knew of the payments to his chief canvasser, but the sheer scale of the payments is certain to prompt calls for further investigation by opposition politicians. Fearne has held senior positions in the administrations of both former premier Joseph Muscat and current prime minister Robert Abela, who he challenged for the leadership following Muscat’s resignation in 2020.

In February this year a Maltese judge ordered that the three hospitals be returned to public control, prompting independent MP Arnold Cassola to call for Mizzi and Malta’s former prime minister Joseph Muscat to be arraigned.

“Tumuluri has been declared an international scammer and the main culprit in scams worth crores of rupees by Malta, Canada and the European Union. Serious allegations have been levelled against him and the Supreme Court in Canada has also made serious declarations about him,” BJP MLA Ashish Shelar said during a debate in the Indian parliament about tendering for electric buses from Tumuluri’s London-based Causis E-Mobility company

Daily Pakistan Global Web Desk

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Pakistani rupee exchange rate against US dollar, Euro, Pound and Riyal - 23 February 2024

Pakistani rupee remains stable against US dollar and other currencies in the open market on February 23, 2024 (Friday)

US Dollar rate in Pakistan

In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.5 for buying and 282.45 for selling.

Euro comes down to 301 for buying and 304 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 351.5 for buying, and 355 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED hovers at 75.95 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.25.

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 23 Feb 2024

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar ‎USD 279.5 282.45
Euro EUR 301 304
UK Pound Sterling GBP 351.5 355
U.A.E Dirham AED 75.95 76.7
Saudi Riyal SAR 74.25 75
Australian Dollar AUD 181 183
Bahrain Dinar BHD 743.88 751.88
Canadian Dollar CAD 207 209
China Yuan CNY 38.89 39.29
Danish Krone DKK 40.38 40.78
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 35.76 36.11
Indian Rupee INR 3.37 3.48
Japanese Yen JPY 2.1 2.18
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 908.79 917.79
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 58.60 59.2
New Zealand Dollar NZD 171.68 173.68
Norwegians Krone NOK 26.43 26.73
Omani Riyal OMR 726.53 734.53
Qatari Riyal ‎QAR 76.76 77.43
Singapore Dollar SGD 207 209
Swedish Korona SEK 26.53 26.83
Swiss Franc CHF 317.87 320.87
Thai Bhat THB 7.79 7.94

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