Fugitive 'mafia boss' in SA cancer con
Julian Rademeyer and Thanduxolo Jika, Media24 Investigations
Johannesburg - The net is closing on fugitive Czech "mafia boss" Radovan Krejcir after he allegedly engineered a R4.5m insurance scam by coercing his doctor into falsely diagnosing him with cancer in a bid to secure a presidential pardon.
Documents and affidavits seen by Media24 Investigations reveal that an amount of R4 579 600 was paid out to Krejcir in July last year by Liberty Life after pathologists' reports confirmed the presence of secondary stage cancerous cells in a bladder biopsy submitted for testing by his doctor.
Discovery Healthcare also suffered R250 000 in losses as a result of the scam, documents state.
But in a dramatic development on Wednesday, Krejcir's doctor, Marian Tupy, entered into a plea-bargain agreement with the National Prosecuting Authority and agreed to testify that his diagnosis was fraudulent and that he "swapped the samples of a person that was known by me to have cancer, with samples of Krejcir, thereby indicating that Krejcir was sick".
In terms of the agreement, Tupy pleaded guilty in the Wynberg Regional Court to the charge of fraud and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, suspended for five years.
“The accused has agreed to provide the State with full disclosure of the fraud and testify,” said the State prosecutor, Advocate Riegal du Toit.
Krejcir, a fugitive from the Czech Republic, arrived in South Africa in 2007 on a Seychelles passport issued in the name Egbert Julius Savy. He is currently applying for asylum, arguing that he is the victim of a political conspiracy in his home country.
According to an affidavit deposed by Tupy, Krejcir initially intended to use the false cancer diagnosis as a means to obtain a presidential pardon from the Czech president.
Krejcir has twice been convicted in absentia in the Czech Republic on counts of fraud. In August 2006 he was sentenced to six years imprisonment. In January this year he was sentenced to a further eight years imprisonment.
In a series of damning affidavits, Tupy - a urologist who practices at the Flora Clinic in Florida - claims Krejcir first broached the "possibility of making a false diagnosis" in April 2008.
Tupy - himself of Czech origin - says Krejcir had mentioned to him that he had spent time in prison and he began making enquiries about his patient.
"I ascertained that he was alleged to be either the first or second-in-command of a mafia-type organisation that was based in Eastern Europe, with its headquarters in Prague.
"There were also stories about persons that had mysteriously 'disappeared', or been murdered, but no bodies found.
"Although I had never done anything like this in my life, I was now quite worried that I might be subject to unlawful 'pressures' by this man."
In interviews with Media24 Investigations last year, Krejcir scoffed at suggestions that he was "some big mafia boss from the Eastern Bloc" and said he had "absolutely nothing to hide".
Pack his bags
Tupy claims that he did not "fully intend to comply" with Krejcir's demands for him to concoct a false diagnosis and planned to "drag the thing out as long as I could, in the hope that he would sooner or later pack his bags and move to the next country of adoption".
But Krejcir did not leave and ensconced himself in South Africa, holding court at the Harbour Fish Market restaurant in the Bedford Centre, usually with one of his two Porsches, a Lamborghini Murcielago, a Ferrari Spider or a Mercedes parked outside.
In 2008, Groep Twee Beleggings - a company run by Krejcir's wife Katerina Krejcírová - bought a R13m, four-storey Bedfordview mansion, replete with a steel and glass lift, aquarium and an infinity pool overlooking the Johannesburg skyline.
Tupy quickly discovered that Krejcir now regarded him as his "personal physician", would call him at all hours of the day and night and often arrived unannounced at his rooms.
Eventually, in frustration, Tupy demanded that he put on a retainer.
Subsequently, Tupy did a biopsy on a cancer patient and took the sample back to his consulting rooms where he swapped it with a sample provided by Krejcir.
By mid-2009, Tupy states, he had come to realise that Krejcir was "not your average guy on the street" and witnessed "what I could best describe as psychopathic tendencies".
"Krejcir often bragged that he could buy anyone he wanted.
"Indeed there were rumours that he had senior cops in his pocket. There were many people that mentioned about the high-level politicians, cops and prosecutors...that he had paid large bribes to...
"I wanted to get rid of him and his 'problems'. However, I also feared that if I just dropped him, he might do something unexpected."
Increasingly worried about his safety, Tupy contacted Paul O'Sullivan - the headline-grabbing crime buster whose investigations led to the corruption conviction of former police chief Jackie Selebi last year.
He gave O'Sullivan a copy of Krejcir's medical file and made an initial statement.
Krejcir later "forced" Tupy to hand over the original medical file and obtain the samples from the laboratory for him.
In January this year, Tupy met Krejcir again at a pub near the Flora Clinic. Krejcir "showed me a statement I had previously made and told me that, if he can prove I made that statement, he will kill me and he also said he would kill Paul O'Sullivan".
Tupy concedes that he broke the law but states: "I had no alternative, if I wanted to stay alive."