May 29th, 2011 21:37 EST
Billionaire Philip Falkone`s AMI Company Under the Attack by Shareholder Zimbabwean Dr. Vivek Solanki
Seven months ago South African media reported that the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), founder and major shareholder of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) listed, African Medical Investments Plc. (AMI), Dr. Vivek Solanki was accused of financial fraud and use of illegal Yellow fever vaccines.
The chairman of AMI, Mr. Phil Edmonds, a former England cricket player turned mining magnate in Africa based in London pursued an application against the former CEO through the newly appointed, Chief Financial Officer and director Brett Windstone, to lay charges through the South African Police and issued an non-executed " warrant of arrest led by investigating officer Patrick Londobozi, with evidence to be produced soon by forensic auditors team led by Burt Botha of Deloitte`s in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mr. Edmonds is also a well-known controversial figure linked to various allegations of money laundering and illegal fire-arms treading in Africa.
After seven months of investigative reporting, new facts and documentary evidence has surfaced with Dr. Solanki breaking his silence and granting us an exclusive story.
Evidence shows that the analysis of the vaccines used at the Airport clinics in Johannesburg by the state laboratory in Bloemfontein has proved the legitimacy of the vaccines produced by Pasteur laboratories and used worldwide including by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The long awaited forensic report by Deloitte is not forthcoming and several attempts to contact Mr. Botha have failed, questioning the legitimacy of the initial allegations against Solanki.
Dr. Vivek Solanky is a prominent medical practitioner in South Africa and Zimbabwe. A third generation Zimbabwean of Rajput origins from India was educated under a Zimbabwe government scholarship program for bright students with no funding. The past 22 years of his career has been dedicated to building innovative health clinics around Africa including South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Kenya and particularly in Zimbabwe.
Evidence of his achievements are mentioned by several patients and doctors interviewed in past few months and is said Doc is a true Zimbabwean patriot who has brought several new and innovative medical facilities to Zimbabwe over the past 16 years despite of poor local economic condition. "
Despite his initial failed attempt to open the Parkview Hospital in Harare due to partnership dispute, he went on to establish the Emergency Rooms, Well Woman Clinic, Cardiac Centre, and Trauma Centre and refurbished numerous private and state clinics throughout the country. Solanki was also approached to help with resuscitating the University of Zimbabwe Medical library in 2010.
During the 2008 cholera outbreak, which claimed thousands of lives in Zimbabwe, Solanky had provided free medicines to hundreds of patients there. Another former elderly patient also stated if you were over the age of 65, you were given free treatment at Solanky`s clinics " "
It has emerged that Solanki was in a dispute with Andrew Groves a director of AMI who is the son of a former Rhodesian police officer. Groves also hold directorships on several listed companies including White Nile, Sable Mining, Boss mining and Agriterra.
The dispute was over the purchase of a corporate jet owned by Groves, which he has bought for USD$1,3m and resold at an exorbitant profit to AMI for USD$3,5m in cohort with chairman Edmonds and Clark. Further disputes were relating to alleged cash money transfers of $250,000, which Groves transported, on the private jet on a couple of occasions.
It has emerged trough investigation of flight records that the corporate jet used by the directors was used to transfer cash notes to Liberia where the Assistant Minister for Mines at the Lands and Mines Ministry, Mr. James Konuwa was alleged to have been encouraged " to grant mining licenses at the Bopulu and Timbo concessions under their local company
Southern Cross investments limited which is controlled by Sable mining Plc. We have established that the Liberian President`s office is probing the allegations against Southern Cross` activities in Liberia.
The problems for the British Directors have extended to their activities through Agriterra and Procana in Mozambique where authorities forced the closure of one of their milling plants in Tete. There is also an active investigation in to their alleged role in hoarding half a million tons of maize at their Chimoio plant managed by Euwen Kay.
Last year, several people died from the riots relating to rise in prices for the staple food, maize in Mozambique.
The directors and chairman Edmonds in return accused Solanky of colluding with suppliers such as Marlene Interiors, Van der Westuizen and Machado contractors, Dansk medical etc. The heated debate resulted in the resignation of Solanky in May 2010 but was rejected by the directors and consoled Solanky into staying on to safe-guard the share price.
The directors then appointed Brett Windstone a former Camec employee to a post of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and director to assist AMI accountants John Raath and Neil Clayton to streamline financial controls in the company.
Windstone convinced the directors to suspend Solanky for financial misconduct, which led to resignation by the former CEO in July 2010.
It is now known that Windstone who has had no previous experience of heading finances of a listed company was brought in to find and formulate incriminating evidence against Solanki who by now had become a loose cannon and a threat to exposing the AMI director`s activities around Africa.
Windstone personally went around with a South African private investigator " and school friend of Groves, Wayne, to various suppliers and threatened and intimidated them to provide evidence against Solanky or face lawsuits.
A former employee of Deloitte working on the audit against Solanky also stated the Windstone shouted at me over the phone stating " find something on Doc if you want to get paid! "
Windstone, having failed to turn around the fortunes of AMI, resigned together with the chief accountant Etienne Coetzee at short notice in Dec 2010. Windstone subsequently filed for bankruptcy and undergoing a bitter divorce in South Africa from which it has emerged that he and Raath allegedly paid the SAP (South African Police) investigating officer ZAR80,000 to arrange Solanky`s warrant of arrest in South Africa.
Documents also show for John Raath to be a mastermind behind setting up a complex array of companies and bank accounts in Mauritius for AMI. Foreign cash was smuggled out under his control and knowledge on company corporate jet and transferred to the numerous accounts in Mauritius and later legitimized in the financial records of AMI.
Raath is known to have contacts at the Reserve Bank of South Africa and the Receiver of Revenue (SARS) and specializes in Tax avoidance, Forex (foreign exchange market) transactions and manipulations through a complex maze of transactions involving assets such as corporate jets, mining machinery etc. through several Companies and Bank accounts to hide the transactions.
Locally, in South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he is reputed to be the Mafia accountant ". Raath has been working for and with Groves and Edmonds for the past 10 years and met during their stint in the DRC where they operated Camec Plc. Raath operates out of his Pretoria office under Lerato Development Corporation (PTY) Ltd in Irene.
The documentaries trace shows that Raath with a former employee of AMI, Wessel Roots were the financial controllers of cash funds for AMI, and not Solanky.
Solanky`s passport shown to us confirms that he spent most of his time in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique for the past 2 years between 2008 to August 2010 building his Hospitals and managing them. Physically it was not possible for Dr. Solanky to be giving injections to patients, and pocketing the cash in South Africa.
Investigations in Zimbabwe have unearthed another fact that AMI does not own any assets in Zimbabwe. Hence, the accusations against Mrs. Zarina Dudhia, the manager of Solanky`s landmark Trauma Centre for the past 16 years, of stealing money from AMI through their local agent Jeremy Sandford prove false.
It has transpired that Sandford forcefully removed USD$200,000 from the safe with presence of 5-armed accomplices at the Clinic, and then accused Zarina of stealing the money. The money stolen from the safe belongs to the Trauma Centre and not AMI.
We have failed to establish any legitimate assets nor any legally registered company belonging to AMI in Zimbabwe, although they do have offices at 9 Ridgeway drive, Chisipite in Harare and claim ownership of Solanky`s Clinic on 15 Lanark Rd, Belgravia.
Solanky who could not be convinced by us about the poor state of governance that exists in Zimbabwe proved to be a true Patriot and voice for Zimbabwe. He stated the it is shame that the British directors are using their friends in the ruling party for personal gain against me and tarnishing the good governance that exists in the country. "
Solanky is an ardent supporter of Zimbabwe and carried on with his Medical ventures there despite being ridiculed numerous times and asked to close down his clinics in protest against the government.
The forensic audit ordered by AMI in Zimbabwe by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) has been declared illegal and inadmissible in court, as AMI does not own the Autoband Investments Private Limited, which runs Trauma Centre. Both are owned by Solanky`s local Trust.
Legal action has been instituted by Solanky`s legal representative, Jonathan Samukange against PWC and AMI for illegal audit and return of his Clinic on Lanark Rd in Belgravia, Harare respectively.
Documents shown to us also indicate that Solanky is owner of Streamsleidgh Investments, the local company that owns the land on which the Clinic was built and was fraudulently removed from it by Jeremy Sandford and Chairman Charles Mushambidzi.
During the last 8 months Dr. Solanky, his family and Zarina Dudhia received numerous threats and several raids were conducted by the Police without warrants on their homes in Johannesburg and Harare under false pretenses of looking for Firearms dug in the garden and drugs ". Nothing was found on these raids. AMI staff always accompanied these raids on the ground.
During one such raid, Johann Bekker and Wessel Roots employees of AMI were present. Roots stated to Solanky`s wife Ana sorry about this but I am under instructions from the directors in London and America who want to finish Doc ".
During our 3-hour interview with Solanky, he adamantly maintains his innocence and stated that I am not running from the law, rather from the threats made to myself and my family " " "I am in constant contact with the investigating officer and my attorney "in a chase of the public prosecutor who is yet to lay charges against me ".
He further stated that my court actions against AMI and clearing my name will prove my innocence as AMI agents have failed to destroy evidence incriminating them. My faith with the truth, justice will prevail! "
Evidence of financial misconduct seems to have been at the level of AMI accountants and junior financial controllers. Could the threats of Solanky to expose the Directors actions have sparked a panic resulting in a rushed conspiracy attempt to frame and discredit him?
The share price of AMI has tumbled drastically from high of 26p to 0,03p since Solanky`s departure and shows no signs of recovery. It appears Solanki was the brainchild of AMI.
Interviews with Doctors employed at various AMI Hospitals that Solanky built confirms this. One such Senior Specialist Doctor, who asked his name not to be mentioned, stated to us the Hospitals are just not the same without Doc (Dr. Solanki) - the new management team are all of catering background and have no experience in the Hospital field let alone medical. I am leaving soon for another Hospital in Maputo ".
The British and American director`s shares in their other listed companies have not fared any better either. The spillover threatens to collapse the dam wall it seems.
While Solanky`s Trust is the second largest shareholder in AMI Plc. with 24m shares, the largest shareholder in the American hedge fund, Harbinger Capital managed by Billionaire Philip Falcone.
Falcone has recently seen his empire tumble from a high of $26bn down to the current $6bn of assets under its management. Falcone has divested from assets in Australia to invest in ventures in Africa including AMI, Sable Mining and African Minerals. These coincidentally, are also managed by Andrew Groves and Phil Edmonds.
This case is heading for an epic battle of the modest Doctor with a vision to build and provide healthcare in Africa pitched against the might of the American Billionaire and crafty British Directors with different interests and opinions.
By Hondo Makoni