Thursday, February 16, 2012

SARS gunning for Ponzi queen

SARS gunning for Ponzi queen
February 16 2012 at 01:29pm
By Vincent Cruywagen


Jasmine Mini Ebrahim. Photo: Noor Slamdien

The taxman is determined to squeeze a massive R17 million out of this Cape Ponzi scheme queen.

And a Daily Voice investigation also reveals the South African Revenue Service is now also targeting all those who invested in the dodgy dealings of the now-liquidated company World Focus 899 CC.

And at the top of SARS’ list is Jasmine “Mini” Ebrahim.

Ebrahim was exposed as the mastermind behind the scam which targeted over 400 poor Muslims as well as some of the province’s wealthiest Islamic families.

Investors in the scheme say “recruiters” even used quotes from the holy Qur’an scriptures to get hesitant investors to hand over their cash.

Investors lost an incredible R157 million in the scheme after World Focus 899 CC was liquidated in April 2010.

SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay Wednesday night confirmed they are going after the World Focus 899 CC Ponzi investors.

“We are working in conjunction with the Financial Services Board and the Registrar of Banks on this matter,” Lackay tells the Daily Voice.

But he did not want to comment directly on their highly sensitive investigation.

However, he made it clear that SARS would be going after “all those who benefited in the alleged Ponzi scheme”.

Liquidators were appointed by the High Court to investigate what happened to the missing R157 million invested in the scheme.

One of these, Ryno Engelbrecht from the liquidators, Progressive Administration, has confirmed to the Daily Voice that they have received a claim of between R15 million and R17 million from SARS.

This claim relates the operation of Ebrahim’s World Focus 899 CC between the 2006 and 2010.

Scheme queen Ebrahim Wednesday night insisted she has settled her debt with the taxman.

“Since 2006 till April 2010, the date of the liquidation, I’ve paid my taxes to SARS and don’t owe them a cent,” she tells the Daily Voice.

“When the Hawks raided my premises in April 2010, they took all the books and electronic equipment relating to World Focus.

“Once SARS has a look at these books, they will see that I’ve paid my all taxes.”

But a damning forensic report – obtained by Daily Voice – indicates Ebrahim did not pay a cent to the taxman.

The report carried out by Barnard Consulting could not identify a single payment to SARS from Ebrahim or World Focus 899 CC.

And it clearly states that World Focus 899 CC qualifies as a pyramid scheme.

Now, all those who invested in the dodgy scheme – and some of those who paid back the money to liquidators – will have to dig deep to pay the taxman.

Among those who have paid back the money are Sharifa Natha – who worked as agent for Ebrahim – and investor Abduraghman Dawood.

Another investor, Ishmet Davidson – a former general manager of Independent Newspapers who now works for Media 24 – Wednesday night confirmed he has settled all of his tax affairs.

Davidson entered into a private agreement with the liquidators at the inquiry on July 29, 2011, to pay back the returns he received on his investments.

Natha and Dawood entered into a similar agreement on October 7, 2011.

Natha, who is currently in Joburg, also claims that she is in the clear.

But smaller investors can now expect to be targeted.

SARS confirmed it is now in possession of the full list of investors – and intends to go after them soon.

*This article was published in the Daily Voice

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