Book review – Rose among the thorns

2014-06-08 15:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The Grand Scam by Rob Rose

Zebra Press

344 pages

R176 at

The thing about business books is that they’re boring. They’re written for dedicated readers. It’s not meant to be enjoyed.

At least that’s how I felt going through Barry Sergeant’s The Assault on the Rand, which tries to explain how the shadowy elite and a bunch of dodgy bankers were behind the collapse of the rand from R7.60 to R13.84 against the dollar in 2001.

The premise is interesting enough, but when, by page 69, Sergeant was still gaaning aan about Kevin Wakeford, the former boss of the SA Chamber of Business – as it was then known – I lost all interest.

Sure, Wakeford blew the whistle on the dodgy dealings, but I don’t think it was necessary to go into detail about how many black friends he had during apartheid or which park he camped his caravan in December of 2001.

So when a copy of Rob Rose’s The Grand Scam landed on my desk recently, I was a bit reluctant. Another boring business book? But curiosity eventually got the better of me.

The Grand Scam examines the life of “the man behind the biggest corporate fraud in South Africa’s history” – Barry Tannenbaum. It’s a whydunit that also looks at what he did to convince sophisticated investors such as a former Pick n Pay CEO and an old JSE boss that his R12.5 billion Ponzi scheme was legit.

Most interesting was the involvement of Jawmend Rossi Capital, which also invested in the scheme but, unlike other investors who lost their savings, walked off with millions in profit.

Jawmend Rossi’s Jonathan Jawno, Michael Mendelowitz and Roberto Rossi are now on the board of financial services group Transaction Capital, the company behind vehicle financier SA Taxi.

“Those guys are ruthless,” says Rose over coffee. “Did you see how much money they made from the scheme?” He whistles.

The book will tell you why. And what Tannenbaum did with those billions. The answer will shock you.

Not a boring business book after all.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.