Steward Health Care Malta has appealed a civil court judgment which annulled the concession granted to it by the government to run three public hospitals after finding fraud.

In a statement on Wednesday, Steward said it has also requested a European Court of Justice (ECJ) preliminary ruling since it viewed the judgement as undermining the rule of law.

The company said it emphatically rejected the narrative of the judge’s findings about it, an assessment that, it said, was made with no basis in evidence.

This narrative was erroneous and could have been disproven had it been asked to supply evidence on these counts to court, the company said. 

"This failing – along with most others present in the judgment – presents major concerns for the rule of law in Malta and has serious implications for the future of foreign investment in the country," it said.  

A court ruled late last month that the privatisation deal involving St Luke's, Karin Grech and Gozo General Hospital was fraudulent, with evidence of wrongdoing at every stage of the process. 

When announcing its appeal on Wednesday, Steward said that while it has "no position on or knowledge" of events that took place while the concession was being awarded [to Vitals Global Healthcare], the company, as part of the appeal, had supplied significant documentary and other evidence to counter any claims made in its respect.

"This evidence, which includes relevant interactions with the Government of Malta and documents outlining how Steward transformed a bankrupt enterprise into a professionally managed operation with a sound financial footing, will help to inform the understanding of the Maltese people about the concession."

It said it had kept the US Embassy and the US State Department – which was on several occasions present at negotiations on the concession terms – fully informed at all times of all relevant events and engagements with the Government of Malta. (Steward's parent company is American).

It insisted it remains committed to operating in accordance with its highest professional standards and values. "Our priority was and remains always the provision of optimal healthcare to the communities and patients we are entrusted to serve."

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