Friday, February 4, 2011

Cowan investors owed life savings

February 4 2011 at 09:23am

Colin Cowan
An Umhlanga financial broker has been taken to court by a couple he has been friends with for 20 years, who want to know what happened to money they invested through him with disgraced late attorney Colin Cowan.

In another court case involving the Cowan affair, Maria and Kenneth Caldwell, of Umdloti, say they are owed more than R2.5 million - their entire life savings, which they wanted to use to buy a home.

However, records at Garlicke and Bousfield, where Cowan worked as an executive consultant until his death, by suicide, in November 2010, only reflected an investment of R100 000.

They claim they invested their money through their friend and broker, Patrick Robert of Nerak Financial Services, who was refusing to give them the relevant documentation.

While Robert had not yet filed an official reply to the Caldwells’ application in the Durban High Court, his lawyer, Simon Chetwynd-Palmer, said on Thursday that Robert was happy to hand over any documentation.

“The application was completely unnecessary. My client will gladly provide the records but will not be paying the costs (of the application).

“This morning I wrote to their lawyer, asking them to let me know when it is suitable for them to inspect and have copies made of the records they have requested,” he said.

In her affidavit, which came before Judge Malcolm Wallis recently, Maria Caldwell said they had socialised with Robert and his wife, Karen, for more than two decades, and that Robert had been handling their insurance and investment portfolios since 1997.

“We always placed implicit trust in them because of our friendship,” she said.

Caldwell said Robert had told them about an investment opportunity in 2001, where their money would be used to provide bridging finance to conveyancing clients of Garlicke and Bousfield.

They were assured that the investment was secure and guaranteed against the registration of transfer of properties. They would earn interest at the prime lending rate plus one percent.

Caldwell said she made her first investment in December that year and, over the next four years, investments totalling about R250 000, money she finally withdrew in 2005.

Later that same year and in 2008 she had invested more money, which she paid into the account of the Nerak Trust (of which Karen Robert is the trustee), each time receiving a letter of undertaking, signed by Cowan, on a Garlicke and Bousfield letterhead.

She said when they heard of Cowan’s death, they wanted to find out if their investments were affected.

Robert asked for time to prepare files but did not get back to them.

In the interim, Gary Rademeyer at the law firm said that records showed only a “single deposit” of R100 000 from them.

“We are hamstrung in processing any claims to recoup our investments without the documents,” she said.

In an earlier letter from Chetwynd-Palmer, which is attached to the court papers, he says the Caldwells met with Cowan on several occasions and “they were fully appraised how their investments had been made”.

He said they should seek to recover their money from the law firm or from Cowan’s estate.

On Thursday Garlicke and Bousfield said good progress was being made in the probe into Cowan’s activities and a clear picture was emerging as to how he had operated the business. - The Mercury

The Star

Comments by Sonny

Corruption & fraud is at the heart of society in SA.

Driving force being the ruling party!!

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