South Africa

News24: Gupta-linked Mediosa management mum, on the run, say staff

By News24 6 March 2018

It appears that management of the Gupta-linked Mediosa company has asconded. The GuptaLeaks emails show a clear relationship between the Guptas, Mediosa and its directors. By Jean Le Roux for NEWS24.

This News24 report has been published amid breaking news reports that a massive raid on Guptas businesses and properties was being conducted in India.

Cape Town – Employees at the struggling Gupta-linked medical technology company Mediosa have still not been paid and staff fear that management has abandoned them to flee to India.

It appears that the company’s management has followed the example set by the controversial Gupta brothers and bolted for India. Mediosa recently made headlines, following revelations that the North West government had paid the company R30m in advance. Mediosa was also providing similar services in the Free State.

This was before Mediosa conducted any work for either province. “Yesterday we did not get paid and there was no communication whatsoever from management regarding not being paid,” Mediosa employee Noxolo Majola told News24.

“We called the lab and the staff said Dr Vijay Balani has gone back to India. We are now worried that all of them will run away to India and leave us hanging.”

Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) records show Mediosa Health is managed by Indian nationals Sundeep Kalsi and Inish Merchant. 

Staff claim both are out of the country and have not communicated with staff regarding the payment of their salaries. 

Yesterday, the SABC reported that the Kalsi’s personal assistant told them that “Kalsi isn’t here, we clossing(sic)”.

Majola also claims that the head of human resources, Nalika Jugwanth, has been avoiding their calls.

Suman Kar, who is apparently running the business in the absence of Inish Merchant, has also failed to communicate with employees.

Clear relationship

The Gupta Leaks emails show a clear relationship between the Guptas, Mediosa and its directors. The first semblance of what would become Mediosa is contained in an email from Sunil Sachdeva, sent on May 9, 2015 to Tony Gupta.

Attached to the mail is a PDF titled “Doctors on Wheels” which details plans for a “mobile medical unit” closely resembling Mediosa’s operations.

Anita Roy was the author of the document. Roy followed this up with a document titled “MOU-Free State” on June 2, 2015. Curiously though, the draft agreement was between an Indian company called Cureva Pvt Ltd, and the Free State Department of Health. Sachdeva is a director of Cureva India.

The MOU (memorandum of understanding) contained a clause stating “[Cureva India] requests The State to use its domain expertise in Legal and Regulatory subjects to facilitate the sourcing of the equipment from outside of South Africa and more particularly from India.

“[Cureva] also requests the State to streamline the process of manpower entry into the State from India and elsewhere for the duration of the mobile facility, subject to the accreditation and registration of the manpower in India by appropriate authority, and provided that such an entry shall be specific to the contract/agreement with the State.”

Mediosa’s management has links to the Guptas and several Indian-based companies. (Graphic: Jean le Roux.)

Cureva India was literally asking the Free State provincial government to pay it to procure goods, services and employees from India. In July 2015, the Guptas purchased a shelf company called Dinovert (Pty) Ltd. 

Roy and Sunil Kumar were initially appointed as the directors of Dinovert. 

Dinovert changed its name to Cureva (Pty) Ltd, and eventually to Mediosa Health (Pty) Ltd in late 2017. Roy was so inspired by her role in Mediosa that she penned a blog post on LinkedIn about her experience.

Over time, the directorship of Dinovert changed. Notably though, former Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane’s special advisor Kubentheran Moodley was appointed as a director from August 25, 2015 until June 12, 2017.

Both Zwane and Moodley have links to the Guptas through the Optimum Coal Mine. At present, Inish Merchant and Sundeep Kalsi are the directors of Mediosa Health.

In early February, Merchant told City Press reporters that “there is no connection at all” between himself, Mediosa and the Gupta family.

But the GuptaLeaks contradicts this claim. 

On June 15, 2015, Ashu Chawla was requested to provide a visa invitation letter for Merchant’s visit to South Africa. 

Chawla cleared this with Tony Gupta, and on June 17, 2015 a letter was sent to the South African High Commission in New Delhi.

Sporting a Sahara Computers logo, it requested the High Commission to issue a business visa for Merchant. 

A similar letter dated 4rd (sic) February 2016 is also contained in the GuptaLeaks emails.

Both letters indicated that Merchant would be staying in Saxonwold Drive for the duration of his stay. The Gupta’s South African home is in Saxonwold Drive.

Indian companies Dinovert’s sole shareholder was a company called SAS Global Services Limited, a Dubai-based company.

In a previous investigation, News24 reporters were unable to find any physical presence of the company in Dubai. 

Staff at the 39-story office block listed as its address had never heard of SAS Global.

But Indian company records show Sundeep Kalsi is a director of several companies, including SAS Infrabuild, SAS Servizio, SAS Infotech and SAS Heights. 

In the majority of these companies, Sunil Sachdeva, the Cureva India director, is Kalsi’s co-director. Company records also show that Cureva India’s contact email is “[email protected]”.

A company called Ramsons Projects ties all of this together. Sachdeva and Kalsi are two of the directors of the company. Ramsons’ 2016/2017 Annual Report listed Roy is a director of the firm, and between Sachdeva’s and his companies, he controls 45% of the shareholding. 

Ramsons’ business address is the same as the one used to register the sasgroup.in domain name, used in Cureva India’s email contact.

Goodbye

On Friday, Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi called on the North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo to sack the province’s health department head, describing Mediosa as an ATM used to loot from the state.

None of this will reassure the employees of Mediosa that they will be paid. 

Management informed staff they would be paid on March 6 at the earliest, but this was before the apparent abscondment of the firm’s management.

Payment troubles have haunted Gupta-linked companies in recent weeks. Staff at the Optimum mine in Mpumalanga downed tools last week after not being paid on time. 

The mining company is one of eight companies with ties to the Guptas that initiated business rescue proceedings last week. Staff at The New Age and ANN7 were also paid late this month. Management of the media companies ascribed the delays to a “payment glitch”.

The Guptas sold the media companies to Mzwanele Manyi’s Lodidox last year in a vendor financed arrangement. DM

The contact number provided for Mediosa went straight to voicemail today.

Photo: A screenshot of the Mediosa website.

Gallery

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