Durban attorney ran phony company

2011-01-21 00:00

WESTVILLE resident Marjorie Copland has approached the Pietermaritzburg High Court to apply for the winding up of an allegedly fraudulent investment company run by former well-known Durban attorney Colin Cowan, who committed suicide last year.

The case came before Judge Kevin Swain in the high court yesterday, but has been adjourned sine die (for an unspecified period).

Copland states in court papers that she invested a total of R990 000 in Rodlane Trading & Investments CC, on Cowan’s instructions. It has now emerged that the company currently has a credit balance of just R181 224,75.

Cowan was the former executive director of top Durban law firm Garlicke & Bousfield Inc.

KPMG has been contracted by Garlicke & Bousfield Inc to investigate Cowan’s dealings prior to his death.

In an affidavit, director Camilla Singh says she has interviewed various people and received information showing that Cowan — using Rodlane Trading & Investments CC (and others) — was involved in a fraudulent scheme in which he induced people to pay significant sums into the company’s bank account, promising that it would be invested and used to make short-term loans to others at a favourable rate.

Instead, the money was used to repay other people from whom Cowan had fraudulently solicited money and who were due to be repaid.

Singh said her investigations show that Rodlane Trading & Investment CC never traded as a legitimate business, but that it was used by Cowan as a vehicle to perpetrate fraud.

Singh said the sole member of the company is Cowan’s brother, Martin Cowan, but holds an interest in name only.

Cowan was in charge of all the company’s operations and financial transactions.

Singh said she believes a liquidator is urgently required to investigate further.

She states there is only R181 224,75 in Rodlane Trading & Investment’s bank account, which is insufficient to satisfy claims of so-called investors between December 14, 2005 and October 28 last year.

Her investigations showed that investor funds of over R70,1 million had flowed “in and out” of Rodlane Trading & Investments bank account.

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