17/11/2013 07:12:00 BY MFANUKHONA NKAMBULE
KWALUSENI – Swazi companies, co-operative societies and individuals have invested their pensions and terminal benefits worth over E23 million with a collapsing South African real estate investment scheme called Sharemax.
In total, 34 000 investors, including Swazis, face losing half of the E4.4 billion they invested in Sharemax schemes.
Swazis invested between E200 000 and E300 000 each.
They invested their terminal benefits and pensions after being retrenched by their various companies.
Sharemax Investments (Pty) Limited is a real estate property investment company that engages in renting, operating, and managing commercial properties for shops and offices.
The company was incorporated in 1998 and is based in Pretoria, South Africa.
As of October 4, 2011, Sharemax Investments (Pty) Ltd. operated as a subsidiary of Realcor Holdings (Pty) Ltd.
People invested in these assets and were promised good returns.
One woman, Zandile Dlamini, wept when she narrated how her relative lost over E100 000 in the scheme. A local cooperative society is said to have invested E4 million.
The scheme faces liquidation in South Africa.
Victims of the Sharemax investment scheme include among others Hlalawati Cooperative, Credit Society, Swaziland Union of Financial Institutions and Allied Workers (SUFIAW). Others are the Swaziland Investment Consortium and a certain scheme for employees of the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications (SPTC).
Not too long ago, the Manzini City Council invested E11 million in a South African pyramid scheme that was liquidated.
Swa zis also invested in the Channel S Club managed by jailed Qhawe Mamba.
A sum of E17 million was invested in the club.
The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) and Central Bank of Swaziland (CBS) told investors at a meeting held at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) yesterday that Sharemax Swaziland was also not registered in Swaziland.
About 200 investors attended the meeting. They had been promised that their investments would mature in five years but they only could reclaim their investments in two years time. Interests varied from nine to 12 per cent per annum and could increase when there was boom in the market.
Sharemax is a real estate investment that set up malls and other commercial buildings. Swazis were urged to invest in property because its market was lucrative.
The set part, according to the investors, is that they realised late that the contract they entered into with Sharemax through Sambulo Investments was written in Afrikaans – a language they did not understand. Sambulo Investments, an insurance broker, has since been suspended.
Sandile Dlamini, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FSRA, said they had no locus standi (legal authority) to pursue the matter in the courts of South Africa.
He advised the investors to seek the services of an attorney who could take up the matter with the South African Ombudsman and Reserve Bank.
Dlamini said there were views that government should release its attorney to represent them. The CEO advised them to write a letter to the office of the Prime Minister or Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and request for the services of a government attorney.
Dlamini said they told him that they did not have money to hire the services of a private attorney; hence government should come to their rescue.
The South African Moneyweb released financial statements for Nova Property Group which showed that investors who bought Sharemax products have lost E2.2 billion.
Nova is the company that owns all the properties that used to belong to investors in the various Sharemax property syndication companies.
Nova was formed as a rescue scheme.
Business Report in South Africa quoted Noluntu Bam, the Ombudsman of the Financial Services Board that Sharemax Investments, its network of financial advisors and four of its directors were allegedly involved “in a scheme calculated to defraud members of the public.
The advisors were Gert Goosen, Willie Botha, Dominique Haese and André Brand.
Carter-Smith who promoted Sharemax products in Swaziland was quoted by the Business Report complaining that he had been misled by the directors of Sharemax and called them “liars”.
The FSRA in Swaziland has also suspended Carter-Smith.
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Times Of Swaziland: Former SEC employees lose over E1 million Former SEC employees lose over E1 million ================================================================================
BONISILE MAKHUBU on 28/07/2012 00:00:00 MBABANE – Former Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) employees who invested about E1 million in Sharemax Investment suspect that they will lose their money. About five of these pensioners have appraoched the Central Bank of Swaziland and the Registrar of Insurance for assistance in the matter.
The fear arises from the company’s alleged failure to fulfil the agreement they entered into when they paid.
According to Luke Nkabinde, he took a retirement package together with others when the then SEC Managing Director Pius Gumbi made the offer in 2010. He said shortly before SEC paid the package, the employees who had shown interest were taken to Esibayeni Lodge where SEC brought in several investment companies that made presen-tations in a bid to help guide them on how best they could handle their packages.
"About 10 of us chose Sharemax. Other companies that presented included Old Mutual, African Alliance and SEDCO," he claimed.
Nkabinde said he personally invested E100 000 while the others invested up to E150 000 to Sharemax, which then issued letters and certificates of approval of shareholding.
He alleged, "It was agreed that we would get paid part of the interest per month and then get the full amount after two years, if we decided not to renew the investment. I only got E1 040 for four months and thereafter there was nothing." He said he met with the other members and learnt that same had also allegedly happened to them.
Upon enquiring from the local office, Nkabinde said they were told that Sharemax was in a court battle with the South African Reserve Bank but were assured that their money was still safe.
"Mr Smith, the agent we were dealing with, said we would resume earning as soon as the battle was over. However we were eventually told that Sharemax had won the case in 2011 but we still did not receive any mon-thly payments," he alleged.
He said the main problem, which is frustrating them even more, was that Smith allegedly seemed no longer prepared to explain what the true position is to them.
"The last time I went to his office he said the money would no longer mature next year but would take three more years to be ready. He does not want to elaborate and says he will not attend to us individually yet we did not join as a team but as individuals," he alleged.
Klein Smith, from the local Sharemax Investment office, refused to discuss the matter and said the Central Bank of Swaziland was handling it. "If you want anything about this matter contact the Central Bank, we are working together," he said before he hung up.
Comment could not be obtained from the Sharemax head office in Pretoria as an email that was sent mid-week was not replied.
When asked on the relationship that SEC had with Sharemax, Coporate Communications Manager Sifiso Dhlamini had promised to respond to a questionnaire that was sent to him.
... Sharemax Investment faces probe for breaching Banks Act MBABANE – Sharemax Investment is said to be facing a probe for allegedly breaching the Banks Act.
An online business report published last week by Roy Cokayne states that the registrar of banks has finally lodged a criminal complaint against Sharemax Investments, and the 33 property syndication companies it promoted, for alleged contraven-tions of the Banks Act.
"About 40 000 shareholders invested R4.5 billion through Sharemax’s various property syndications.
"The alleged contraventions are being investigated by the Serious Economic Offences Unit at the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, the Hawks. "Anyone found guilty of contraventions of the Banks Act is liable to a fine or imprisonment for a maximum period of 10 years or to both a fine and imprisonment," reads the report.
Cokayne quoted Michael Blackbeard, Deputy registrar of banks at the Reserve Bank, as having confirmed this week that the statutory managers appointed to the Sharemax group of companies had, after being requested to do so, informed the Serious Economic Offences Unit of the South African Police Service (SAPS) that they were satisfied that Sharemax’s funding models contravened the Banks Act. "Blackbeard stressed that this was an administrative finding by the registrar’s office and "not a finding on criminality on the part of the persons involved in the scheme".
"Criminal investigations and prosecutions are an area of responsibility of the SAPS and National Prosecuting Authority and it is for them to decide how to proceed," he said.
The registrar of banks concluded in 2010 that Sharemax’s funding models contravened the Banks Act.
"This resulted in the office appointing statutory managers to the Sharemax group of companies and its various property syndications in September 2010 to manage the repayment of funds illegally obtained from the public.
Business Report asked Blackbeard last year why criminal charges for contraventions of the Banks Act had not yet been lodged against Sharemax. He said the main concern of the office was for the various Sharemax-related companies to resolve their concerns and to give effect to the office’s directive to repay investors’ funds.
He said the office’s mandate was very limited and focused on contraventions of the Banks Act but it would "in due course" instruct the managers to lay a charge with the SAPS," further wrote Cokayne.
He said Blackbeard added that the office was aware the SAPS was already investigating some of the "members" who had been involved in Sharemax schemes and it would provide the necessary assistance to the police and prosecuting authorities.
"He previously confirmed that the registrar’s office had been challenged by Sharemax’s lawyers, which culminated in legal arguments relating to the proper interpretation of certain legal prescriptions.
Sharemax ceased making monthly payments to investors at the end of August 2010 when new investor funds dried up.
While under statutory management, the directors of Sharemax proposed a scheme of arrangement and offer of compromise to investors.
These schemes were sanctioned by the North Gauteng High Court in January, leading to the lifting of the statutory management directive," he wrote.