Steward Health Care International (SHCI) has filed a formal complaint to the European Commission against the Maltese Government and the Judiciary of Malta over claims of infringement, on several grounds, of EU Law. This complaint was filed after SHCI´s appeal to the judgement on the hospitals’ concession agreement.
As previously stated, the company “emphatically rejects the narrative of the judge’s findings in relation to SHCI’s Maltese subsidiary, Steward Health Care Malta (SHCM), a judgement which fails to support its ruling with evidence or on applicable legal grounds,” the company said in a statement.
“The judgment´s narrative, which is speculative and highly conjectural, could have been disproven had SHCM been asked to supply evidence on these counts to court. Such a request was never made, neglecting therefore the right to a defence.”
Apart from the formal complaint, Steward Health Care Malta had appealed the court judgement, which nullified the hospital concession agreement after concluding the deal was “fraudulent” and “possibly criminal”, and requested a European Court of Justice Preliminary ruling.
In SCHI’s statement to the press on Thursday (today), it said “the judgement on the hospitals’ concession breaches EU law on various fronts. It is incompatible with the key principle of free movement of capital, and is not compliant with the general principles of legal certainty and legitimate expectations, as well as the principle of proportionality.”
SHCI also considers that the judge significantly and deliberately overreached his remit in his verdict. “This is a serious breach of the judicial practice and a clear indication that the verdict was arrived at as a result of political, rather than factual, motives,” it said.
“These failings – along with most others present in the judgement – represent major concerns for the rule of law in Malta, a country that has been afflicted by significant corruption scandals relating to the executive, legislative, and judicial arms of authority for many years (some of which have even required investigation and demands that changes be implemented by the European Banking Authority).
“This latest example of the deterioration of the rule of law in Malta will have serious implications for the future of foreign investment in the country,” the strongly worded statement read.
SCHI went on to say that “as illustrated by the wildly unsound court verdict and subsequent coordinated behaviour by ostensibly independent government agencies, SHCI has deep concerns about the rule of law and proper functioning of the pillars of Government.”
SHCI said it has submitted this complaint to the European Commission alongside its aforementioned case in Malta as well as the request to appeal the preliminary ruling with the European Court of Justice. SHCI noted Malta’s weakening recent record of respect for the authority and legitimacy of the European judicial authorities after the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) last month complained about being ‘shut out’ of magisterial inquiries.
“SHCM remains committed to a fair and orderly transition and will ensure that the wellbeing of our patients and our employees remain our priority.”
Last month, the Government announced it was terminating the concession and was ready to operate the three hospitals under Steward’s management, Karin Grech Hospital, St Luke;s Hospital Campus and Gozo General Hospital, as per the original concession agreement.
In an equally forceful reply, SHCM had issued a statement saying it “denies and rejects” the Government’s attempt to terminate the concession it has for three hospitals and threatened legal action should the “unlawful” action continue.
It pointed out that the concession had already been terminated from its end on 16th March, and claimed that the Government’s ‘Control Step-in Notice and Termination Notice’ had no legal basis.
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