Friday, January 14, 2011

Sharemax lawyers files defamation suit

Sharemax lawyer files defamation suit
January 14 2011 at 09:45am
By roy cokayne


Independent Newspapers

Zambezi mall - one of Sharemax's properties. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Sharemax Investments attorneys Weavind & Weavind, along with its seven directors, have instituted a multimillion-rand damages claim against three people and a company over allegations that the law firm had misappropriated funds from its trust account.

Weavind & Weavind’s particulars of claim lists a number of statements alleging that funds deposited into the firm’s trust fund had been stolen by the company. These allegations were made in affidavits drafted in support of a complaint to the Law Society of the Northern Provinces and a criminal case.

The firm said the allegations were “wrongful and defamatory” of the firm and carried the implication that the directors were complicit in the theft and shared in the proceeds.

It said the statements were made with the intention to defame the firm and its directors and injure their reputation.

Pierre Hough, the managing director of Chase International, who assisted with the drafting of the affidavits and is one of the respondents in the matter, said yesterday that the summons and damages claim had no substance or merit and confirmed that the respondents would be defending the matter.

Hough claimed that the damages claim was a tactic by Weavind & Weavind to “scare off” other investors in syndications marketed by Sharemax from lodging claims against the law firm.

Weavind & Weavind and its directors have issued a combined summons against Hough, Chase Consulting, financial planner Toffie Risk and Johanna Margaretha Magdalena Bosman, an investor in the Zambezi Retail Park syndication marketed by Sharemax.

The firm is claiming R2 million and its seven directors a further R1m each from Bosman, Hough and Chase Consulting because of damages they claim resulted from Bosman’s conduct.

It is also claiming R2m and its directors R1m each from Hough, Chase Consulting and Toffie Risk related to a similar affidavit submitted by Risk.

Jaco Fourie, a senior legal official of disciplinary department at the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, said yesterday that the organisation was waiting for a response from Hough to Weavind & Weavind’s comments about the complaint before presenting the evidence to a disciplinary committee of the law society.

The complaint to the law society and the opening of a fraud case at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria, which was subsequently transferred to the commercial crimes unit of the SAPS, followed Sharemax defaulting on monthly payments to investors in early September last year.

Construction on both Zambezi Retail Park and The Villa schemes promoted by Sharemax ground to a halt at the same time.

The registrar of banks in mid-September appointed statutory managers to manage the repayment of funds after an investigation found that Sharemax’s funding model contravened the Banks Act. - Roy Cokayne


  1. The Wendy Machanik exodus is just the tip of the iceberg in the property industry saga.....
    How many lawyers have fallen into disrepute lately??
    Is it the sign of the times or the decay of SA society?

  2. Pietermaritzburg - Three Durban attorneys, arrested and granted bail in Pietermaritzburg on Monday, are to face charges along with high profile personalities previously charged with corruption and money laundering.

    Nozibele Phindela, Jabulani Thusi and Ian Blose, who were granted R15 000 bail by regional Magistrate Chris van Vuuren, were ordered to appear with the original accused in the matter on December 2.

    The attorney's firm Kuboni Shezi is also charged in the case.

    A total of 10 individuals and seven companies are charged on 17 counts of corruption and money laundering. Not all the accused are charged with all the counts.

    The original accused include Sipho Derrick Shabalala, former head of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial treasury and Uruguayan Gaston Savoi who along with his Intaka Holdings was arraigned on similar charges in Kimberley.

    An allegation is that Shabalala dishonestly accepted or agreed to accept more than R1m from Savoi and/or Intaka to exert influence to grant a tender to Intaka for water purification plants.

    Allied to this is a fraud charge in that he by misrepresentation negotiated disposal of R44m poverty alleviation fund money with the effect that the money was paid to Intaka for water purification. Also accused are Busisiwe Nyembezi, a former head of the KwaZulu-Natal health department, and Beatrice Shabalala, wife of Sipho Shabalala.

    Attorney Sandile Kuboni, Lindelihle Mkwanazi, a shareholder of Rowmoor Investments, and Yoliswa Mbele, also a former head of the provincial department of health are also the accused in the case.

    Another accused is Blue Serenity Investments whose shareholders are Sipho and Beatrice Shabalala.

    - SAPA
    2010 November

  3. Sharemax board proposes a solution
    January 2011

    The board of Sharemax-related companies has launched a scheme of arrangement process. This involved an offer of compromise and arrangement between the company, its members and creditors, it said in a statement yesterday.

    The board believed the process would provide the best solution and protection to investors and other interested parties.

    It said that, if accepted and successfully implemented, it would simultaneously address and rectify any contraventions of the Banks Act. The process would also effectively “ring fence” the companies and the various rights and interests of the companies, investors and interested parties. A professional team had been instructed to commence with the process.

    The board anticipated that a proposal would be presented for approval to the high court before the end of next month and thereafter to interested and affected parties for approval. About 40 000 shareholders have invested R4.5 billion in Sharemax syndications. – Roy Cokayne

  4. MAYBE there is justice after all. That’s what I thought when I read in Rapport yesterday that the Reserve Bank soon may have to decide whether or not to force SA’s biggest property investment company to repay thousands of millions of rands to thousands of investors. Rapport said this step followed after the Central Bank recently found that Sharemax Investments for six years collected – in illegal fashion – at least R5bn from approximately 40000 investors – most of them pensioners (a lesson to someone such as myself who will soon find have the same status). The Reserve Bank found Sharemax had acted as a bank without having been registered as such. Of course Sharemax disagrees with the Reserve Bank’s findings. But Rapport quotes forensic auditor Andre Prakke, who said investors had invested in an illegal scheme. That, he added, could mean that they may be told to repay all interest and dividends derived from their investments. Why am I telling you this? Because this is not the first time that someone has raised questions about Sharemax. My friend and former colleague, the late award-winning Financial Journalist Deon Basson had been on a crusade for years, almost begging the authorities to take a closer look at Sharemax. As a result, at the time of his death at 53 years in September 2008 (and I am not suggesting Sharemax’s actions caused his heart attack) Basson defended a R20m defamation court action instituted by Sharemax over articles he had written. Of course, like I know too well from personal experience, being sued is par for the course in our job. My gripe with Sharemax is not about that. Basson, who was six times adjudged as Sanlam’s Financial Journalist of the Year, was able and experienced enough to defend himself. What I, at the time, objected against in my columns (I also reported it to the Carter Centre For Mental Health Journalism during my fellowship year) was the underhand and uncivilised methods Sharemax used in its fight with Basson. You see, Basson was facing his own battle against the stigma of bipolar depression while defending the Sharemax action. Almost similar to Russell Crowe’s portrayal in A Beautiful Mind, of the story of Princeton’s mathematical genius John Forbes Nash Jr, who suffered from schizophrenia. Sharemax however exploited Basson’s illness. In an extract from a Sharemax court document, Sharemax marketing director Andre Brand asked whether Basson “suffers from a medical condition for which he does not take his medication as prescribed”. In e-mails to ITINews, broker (and Sharemax supporter) Neels Marnewick remarked: “… Deon Basson (who has been certified as a schizophrenic) when he, for reasons only known to him, attacked Sharemax. Your yournalsim (sic) lacks!!!” On the same day: “Why do you think Basson only attacked Sharemax??? Because he is a sick person!!! Stinking yournalism (sic)!!!” Another Sharemax fan, GL, as he called himself in nameless e-mails to Moneyweb, wrote to Basson: “I dont (sic) want to be personal but I think it is important to know that you are identified (sic) with a mental condition and that you have been treated for weeks in a mental institution … I believe that this might afect (sic) your judgement.” So what did Sharemax do after Basson’s death? The Realestate web in June last year described it as “the price of silence” when Sharemax paid R400000 to the executor of the estate of Basson to buy the rights to Basson’s Public Interest Warriors, his unpublished book in which Sharemax appeared extensively. Sharemax lawyer Coenie Willemse then sent letters to Realestate web and ITINews editor Brent Wilson requesting the immediate removal of all articles and/or excerpts from Public Interest Warriors. Of course we know why Sharemax had done so. It was the price paid for silence. It never intended to publish the book. But the Sharemax management did not reckon that Basson’s voice would one day be heard from his grave.

  5. These directors should be charged under the Anti Corruption Act and be stripped of all personal assets and properties.
    They should then be deported to the countries they ran from.