Broker Hale’s shady past

2009-07-29 00:00

“MIKE HALE is a smooth talker, he has a gift of the gab, he would sell you a Macintosh in the middle of the desert, very charismatic,” a woman who is related to one of Hale’s ex-wives told the Witness.

Pietermaritzburg insurance broker Hale has left many clients penniless after absconding with their investments recently, and even stole gold coins and money from his wife, whom he abandoned.

The woman said her family reported Hale to the Insurance Ombudsman twice after he tried to swindle money from them.

“My mother in-law and my mother took policies with him, but as time went on they were concerned that they would end up with no capital in the end. When my mother-in-law asked him to explain the policy he was very evasive and spoke gibberish and said she would end up not understanding.”

The family wrote to the ombudsman and asked the office to investigate. The first investigation dragged for years until the family gave up.

“Nobody accused him of anything because there was no evidence to nail him down, only gut feeling, so we got frustrated and abandoned the case.

“The second time around though, the Ombudsman found a discrepancy in the policy and paid out.”

Hale worked at Alexandra High School and later became a car salesman before he ventured into insurance, working at first for a reputable insurance institution.

“Relatives patronised him by investing through him,” the woman said.

He later started his brokerage business and according to some of his clients, it was then his “dark side” emerged.

“He withheld information about policies and was playing very dodgy,” she said.

The woman said she lived across the street from Hale’s house while he was married to her sister in-law during the early 80s. She said he “loved socialising”.

More people are still coming to terms with the reality of having been duped out of their life savings without smelling a rat. The total missing was climbing towards R12 million yesterday as staff at his business MJCM Investments assisted clients.

Sales manager Peter Steedman said work at the office was solely about Hale’s clients.

“It’s hectic. We are sorting out this man’s nonsense, we have stopped doing our normal duties here. Since the story broke in The Witness people from Richmond, Ixopo and everywhere have been calling and flooding in to enquire about their investments.”

Steedman said the staff have not been paid and will not be paid for their hard work. “We have to help these people until I start on my new job at the beginning of August.”

Hale’s house has been put up for sale. His wife told The Witness has learnt that his business will also be sold.

Some of the people who have come forward include a prominent Scottsville couple who said they have lost everything.

“We trusted him with our life earnings, every single cent is gone. We took educational policies for our two children, one of the kids is in matric this year, but Hale stole all the money. We are going to lose our home and vehicles. He has jeopardised the prospects of our business, the possibilities to sustain our lives … Does he not know that God is watching him.”

Eddie Grace, a 92-year-old man, lost all his life savings totalling more than R100 000, while Iris Jepson (71) said she invested R120 000 with Hale.

“All I have now is what was left in my bank account, but I had to freeze that account because he was my broker and he knew my account number and I can’t use it now. It is very frightening … what are we going to live on?”

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