WATCH | Inside the Guptas’ billion-dollar Dubai hospital

#GuptaEmails: Further evidence of family seeking ways to send funds earned in South Africa to Dubai

08 November 2017 - 06:42 By Kyle Cowan and Stephan Hofstatter

The Guptas were planning to set up a billion-dollar medical facility in Dubai with shareholders who were awarded lucrative tenders to provide provincial health departments with mobile clinics in Free State and North West.

New revelations from the leaked Gupta e-mails have provided further evidence of the Guptas seeking ways to send funds earned from state contracts in South Africa to Dubai.

A joint investigation by Business Day and The Times has established a company named Cureva, which was later renamed Mediosa, was awarded a three-year contract in October 2015 by the Free State health department.

The pilot project for the supply and running of two mobile clinics had a potential value of R50-million a year while the Gupta family and their associates planned for a national rollout worth an estimated R1-billion a year.

The Gupta leaks show cost calculation spreadsheets were sent to Tony Gupta months before the tender was awarded and before Cureva was established by their business associate Sunil Sachdeva, co-founder of Indian medical facility company Medanta.

The Free State award to Cureva, then named Dinovert, was sent to Gupta ally Ian Whitley, chief of staff in Minister of Co-operative Governance Des van Rooyen's office and top ANC member Jessie Duarte's son-in-law.

Whitley said this week he had "no business dealings with Cureva".

"I was approached during the start-up phase to be their South African representative and, after careful consideration, declined."

Asked why the tender award letter was addressed to him, he said he "was listed as the contact person even though I had never concluded any employment agreement".

At the time, the provincial department of health was under financial administration by the provincial treasury.

The award letter was signed by treasury chief financial officer Godfrey Mahlatsi, who this week said neither he nor Treasury were aware of the Guptas' involvement in the deal.

He explained that Cureva would be paid about R954 per patient, with a target of 25,000 people a year per mobile clinic.

"Mr Mahlatsi has never met any of the Gupta family and, to the best of his knowledge, he is not aware that the Gupta family had any representative," provincial treasury spokesman Tshidiso Mokokoane said.

According to the e-mails, at the time the tender was awarded Cureva was owned by SAS Global, registered in Dubai, which is suspected of being a Gupta front company.

Mediosa's current director Inish Merchant said the mobile clinics started operating in January this year in the Free State and North West.

He said he did not know the Guptas and had no knowledge of their involvement in the company, although the leaks show Tony Gupta instructed Sahara to issue an invitation letter for Merchant's visa application in June 2015.

Sachdeva and the Guptas did not respond to e-mailed questions.