SA model tells court her engaging personality impressed Arab admirers

2014-03-23 10:00

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Model says it was her engaging personality that impressed her mysterious Arab admirers

The Western Cape High Court has rubbished a bikini model’s claim that her “engaging personality” scored her a host of luxury gifts.

The gifts included $15.3 million (R164?million) in cash, luxury cars and cellphones – all from mysterious Arab admirers – last year.

The SA Revenue Service (Sars) asked the Western Cape High Court for permission to look into the mysterious “gifts” 21-year-old Candice-Jean van der Merwe claimed she received from unnamed admirers she met on modelling trips in the Seychelles.

But this week, the court dismissed her claims as “far-fetched and implausible”.

Sars’ real target is her 52-year-old father, Gary van der Merwe, who the now-defunct Scorpions described in 2004 as “one of the most sought-after, high-flyer criminals in Cape Town”.

Acting Judge Kate Savage delivered the judgment last month, dismissing Gary’s attempts to quash a Sars inquest, and freezing his assets and those of various of his companies and relatives. New court papers leaked to City Press detail an extraordinary plot reminiscent of a James Bond novel.

They detail Gary’s first arrest at Cape Town International ­Airport in July 2004, when authorities seized R1.2 million in cash, which he was shipping to Las Palmas, the capital of the Canary Islands, in a suitcase.

At the time, Gary insisted that the money was “sourced from the sale of property, gambling winnings, redemption at a ­casino and his children’s savings account”.

Called for comment this week, Gary, who lives in the historic Zonnekus mansion in Milnerton, Cape Town, refused to say whether his latest enterprise, Swaziland-based Executive ­Helicopters, is open for business.

The company’s website says it offers heritage helicopter flips over Swaziland and boasts an impressive fleet including a 30-passenger capacity Super Frelon formerly used by the South African air force.

Sars claims Gary has dodged R291 million in taxes over the years, including R72.6 million owed by Executive Helicopters alone.

In May last year, the Financial Intelligence Centre again brought suspicious transactions by Gary – particularly his daughter’s “gifts” – to Sars’ attention.

In court documents it’s revealed that $15.3 million was transferred from the Bank Med Sal in Lebanon to Candice-Jean’s local Standard Bank account by a ­“Muhamad Muhamad Nazih Rawas” on May 16.

But the bucks didn’t stop there.

Later that month Candice-Jean was contacted by the V&A ­Waterfront’s Audi dealership, which presented her with a R2?million Audi R8 Spyder.

This, she was informed, was a gift.

The next month a R660 000 Land Rover Evoque registered in her name arrived.

The respective heads of the Cape Town luxury car dealerships said the vehicles were paid for in cash following email correspondence with a “Georges Moussalli”.

At the same time, two cellphones were also couriered to her Fresnaye property on the slopes of Signal Hill, which she bought for R110 million last year.

In court papers the 1.74m honey blonde attempts to shed light on the flurry of gifts.

The model explains that through her agency, Ice Model Management, she was first booked to travel to the exclusive Plantation Club resort on Mahé ­Island in the Seychelles two years ago.

She said the private resort is owned and ­frequented by some of the richest people in the world, for whom privacy is paramount and “money is no object”.

In court papers, Candice-Jean notes that, during her first trip to the Plantation Club ­resort in October 2012, she “got on very well” with those she met there. She says she ­suspected it was because of her healthy ­lifestyle and what she has been told is her “very engaging personality”.

Her arguments were wholeheartedly ­dismissed by the judge.

“The probabilities that a young model would, following a few short visits to a resort in the Seychelles, enjoy the serial generosity of a donor or benefactor on an unparalleled scale, I find to be far-fetched and implausible,” said Savage.

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay said the ­investigation into Gary’s affairs would go ahead this month.

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