Bestmed gets rid of nine trus­tees found to be unfit

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS NEWS - Sapa

NINE OF Bestmed med­i­cal scheme’s trus­tees had been re­moved from of­fice for al­leged lack of fit­ness and pro­pri­ety, the Coun­cil for Med­i­cal Schemes said on Thurs­day.

Their im­me­di­ate re­moval fol­lowed a rou­tine in­spec­tion by the coun­cil, spokesman Clayton Swart said. The in­spec­tion un­cov­ered a num­ber of al­leged trans­ac­tions.

They in­cluded a trip to Botswana where Bestmed spent R365 201 on, among other ac­tiv­i­ties, a sa­fari and he­li­copter flights over the Vic­to­ria Falls, al­legedly as part of mar­ket­ing; hunt­ing trips cost­ing more than R60 000; Neil Di­a­mond con­cert tick­ets, flights, liquor and en­ter­tain­ment for R140 793; rugby suit and ticket spon­sor­ships of more than R205 000; and pay­ing San­lam Health Dis­tri­bu­tion Ser­vices (SHDS) mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion fees of over R111 mil­lion.

The coun­cil was em­pow­ered in terms of the Med­i­cal Schemes Act to re­move a board of trus­tees mem­ber if it had suf­fi­cient rea­son to be­lieve the per­son con­cerned was not fit and proper to hold of­fice.

“The Botswana trip, hunt­ing trips, pay­ing for con­certs, tick­ets and suits for rugby and sports events are not business of a med­i­cal scheme.” The trus­tees had been given am­ple time and ex­ten­sions to re­spond to the coun­cil’s con­cerns raised in a re­port handed to them in March 2013, Swart said.

“The coun­cil has found that the con­tra­ven­tion of the rules and the rel­e­vant laws con­sti­tute suf­fi­cient rea­son to be­lieve that the trus­tees are not fit and proper per­sons to hold the of­fice as a trustee.”

Bestmed con­firmed to the coun­cil it had paid more than R111m to SHDS. “Part of this pay­ment was used to pay bro­kers and was re­ceived as co-ad­min­is­tra­tion in ad­di­tion to fees for en­sur­ing reg­is­tra­tion of new mem­bers.

“In terms of sec­tion 65(1) of the MSA [Med­i­cal Schemes Act] no per­son may act as a bro­ker or of­fer to act as a bro­ker un­less the coun­cil has granted ac­cred­i­ta­tion to such a per­son on pay­ment of such fees as may be pre­scribed.”

The trus­tees launched an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion in the high court in Pre­to­ria, in which they re­ferred to an ap­peal to the coun­cil’s ap­peal board, to sus­pend the or­der. “The coun­cil in­tends to op­pose the ap­pli­ca­tion.” Bestmed is an open med­i­cal scheme with 172 984 ben­e­fi­cia­ries. “The claims-pay­ing abil­ity of the scheme re­mains un­af­fected. The re­moval of trus­tees from of­fice stems only from con­cerns over their abil­ity to gov­ern and is not a re­flec­tion of the fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity of the scheme.”

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