‘Don’t blame us’

2013-11-11 00:00

ONE of South Africa’s biggest law firms accused of knowingly processing a forged high court order has distanced itself from any responsibility if the allegation is found to be true.

Furthermore, one of the country’s largest banks has weighed in over worries that it too could be held responsible if the orders are proven to be fake.

And stuck in the middle of it all is a farm owned by one of South Africa’s wealthiest men.

Today, Durban North resident Ian Brakspear will launch an application at the Durban high court to have a provisional order granted on December 2008 by the same court, declared null and void on the grounds that it is a fake. The order was used as the basis for liquidating Brakspear’s company West Dune Properties.

Representing himself, Brakspear’s application is connected to a parallel investigation that has been run by the Hawks into the same matter.

In October, The Witness obtained affidavits signed by high court registry officials confirming that they did not sign documents, despite what look like their signatures on the document, used to liquidate Brakspear’s company in 2008.

The Witness also saw the alleged forged signatures and the forensic evidence to back up the court official’s claim.

Brakspear is accusing the law firm who drafted the order, Edward Nathan Sonnenburg (ENS) and by default its senior director Leonard Katz, of contempt of court claiming they knowingly forged the order.

But Katz, an insolvency director at ENS, has said in an opposing affidavit filed this week, that despite Brakspear’s contentions of fraud being “entirely without foundation and devoid of truth”, he said if there are irregularities found in the issuing of court orders neither ENS nor their client, Jersey island-based Nedgroup, which is part of the Nedbank Group Limited, can be held responsible.

Nedgroup’s involvement is based on the premise that it was to them that Brakspear owed R14 million in unpaid debts that led to the liquidation of his company, which led to the sale of his 85-hectare farm in the exclusive Franschhoek area.

“I submit this matter would clearly be a matter for the judge president [if found to have merit],” said Katz’s affidavit.

In his affidavit, both he and the liquidators have called Brakspear’s affidavits “voluminous” and containing “serious allegations with far-reaching” consequences.

Katz has also defended that the order was granted outside of court and thereby not read into the court roll. Part of Brakspear’s allegation is that there is no audio or written record of the order and thereby it must be forged.

In the midst of all this there is multi-million rand Klein Normandie farm in Paarl, Western Cape, which was auctioned off as part of the liquidation order granted in 2008.

If today’s order is granted, it could put its very ownership up for contention.

It is currently owned by South African business mogul Johann Rupert. Initially, well-known and controversial Johannesburg businessman Zunaid Moti bought the property for R18 million.

However, according to Katz’s affidavit, while there were delays in transferring the farm to Moti, Rupert put in a higher bid. The liquidators cancelled Moti’s deal and Rupert bought the farm for R25 million.

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