Netcare board backs CEO

2010-09-16 19:34

Johannesburg - Hospital network Netcare's board of directors "fully supported" their CEO Richard Friedland, who has been charged with offences related to illegal organ transplants.

"The allegations against Netcare and Dr Friedland have been thoroughly investigated by independent attorneys and senior counsel engaged by Netcare," the board said in a statement on Thursday.

"The board has been advised that the allegations made are unjustified and that neither Netcare nor Dr Friedland are guilty of any wrongdoing."

The board confirmed the CEO had been charged.

"Netcare, Netcare Kwa-Zulu (Pty) Ltd and Dr Richard Friedland together with other persons have been charged by the Director of Public Prosecutions with a number of offences regarding organ transplants performed by several specialist doctors at the Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in 2001 and 2002," the statement read.

The board said the accused would "vigorously defend" the charges.

"The board is confident that both Netcare and Dr Friedland will successfully defeat the charges which have been made against them, and that Dr Friedland will continue to discharge his duties as chief executive officer of Netcare with the same commitment, distinction and dignity for which he is well-known."

Earlier on Thursday, Netcare denied the allegations.

"After several years of co-operating fully with the SA Police Service and providing the investigating officer with countless affidavits, it has come as a great surprise and disappointment that the prosecuting authority has seen it fit to bring charges against Netcare Limited, Netcare KZN and Dr Richard Friedland... ," the hospital group said in a statement posted on its website.

The Mercury newspaper reported on Thursday that Netcare allegedly made more than R22m with the operations.

According to the Durban paper, Friedland was accused of being aware of the illegal transplants and allowing them to continue. The charges relate to more than a 100 operations at the hospital in which people - mainly Brazilians - were paid as little as R42 000 to donate their kidneys to Israeli patients.

According to The Times newspaper Friedland and several transplant unit staff were served with summons on Thursday. More people were expected to be served with summons on Thursday.

The accused were expected to appear in a Durban court in November.