Savoi: my wealth is untainted

2010-12-02 00:00

CAPE-BASED businessman Gaston Savoi has declared he is innocent of wrongdoing and that he is “deeply disappointed” at being treated like a criminal who is a flight risk.

The Uruguayan said investing in South Africa was “not only a business decision but also a matter of the heart” and he has immense love and respect for the country.

Savoi, of Intaka Investments, is one of several prominent accused who are expected today to appear again in the regional court in Pietermaritzburg to face allegations of involvement in corruption, money laundering and tender fraud in KwaZulu Natal’s health industry.

His co-accused are former heads of the KZN health department, Busisiwe Nyembezi and Yoliswa Mbele; the former head of KZN Treasury, Sipho Derrick Shabalala, and his wife, Beatrice “Ntombi” Shabalala; advocate Sandile Kuboni; Durban attorneys Nozibele Phindela, Jabulani Thusi and Ian Blose of the firm Kuboni Shezi (of which Sandile Kuboni was previously sole proprietor); and Lindelihle Mkwanazi of Rowmoor Investments.

Savoi’s company (formerly Intaka Holdings Pty Ltd), Rowmoor Investments, and the Shabalalas’ Blue Serenity Investments also feature in the charges.

The prosecution alleges Intaka Holdings was corruptly awarded water purification and oxygen unit contracts for hospitals in the province.

In a statement yesterday Savoi said he is “saddened” by the charges and will continue to co-operate with the legal system to prove his innocence.

”I am a businessman of integrity with a track record spanning over 37 years in the health industry.

“I entered this country in 2001 by invitation and assistance from the Trade and Investment Council of South Africa, who provided me with guidance and advice on how to conduct business in South Africa and establish my companies.

“My wealth was, and is, untainted and has not been gained through any illegal means,” he said.

Savoi said he has co-operated with the police since investigations began in 2007 and is disappointed at being treated “as a criminal” who is “a flight risk”.

Savoi said Intaka Tech manufactures mobile water purification systems and on-site gas generating units that work.

He added that a big problem facing South Africa and countries with remote rural communities is their reliance on smaller hospitals and clinics for healthcare. 

He said the government is under pressure to provide pure water to remote communities and Intaka Tech has the skills and equipment to help. 

Intaka’s systems “like any piece of machinery” require regular maintenance and some units are not working optimally. But that is due “entirely to the failure by the relevant hospitals and municipalities to maintain the units properly”, Savoi declared.

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