I’m clean — promoter

2010-03-25 00:00

MORE than nine months after his sudden disappearance from the city, well-known former Pietermaritzburg events and concert organiser Chris Hodgkins has defended his actions and lashed out at those who spread “scurrilously underhanded rumours” and who accused him at the time of “skipping the country” with company funds.

Hodgkins this week approached The Witness from the United Kingdom, saying he had recently read the articles about his disappearance and felt it “necessary to put forward the correct side of the story”.

Weekend Witness reported in July last year that one of Hodgkins’s business partners, broker Mike Woollam, had ascertained that Hodgkins had left the country for London. According to Woollam, Hodgkins left only R500 in the HMW (Hodgkins, Muir & Woollam) Events business account.

An estimated R260 000, the proceeds from tickets sold for the 2009 Concert in the Park, was believed to be in Hodgkins’s private account. Woollam said bank statements showed that Hodgkins had also transferred R126 000 from the business account to his private account. According to Woollam at the time, that amount, even over two months, would have been in excess of Hodgkins’s monthly salary of R40 000.

He added that the close corporation owed creditors about R130 000 for costs associated with the Concert in the Park, and he had to pay these debts out of his own pocket.

Woollam also expressed his unhappiness with Hodgkins’s failure to produce any books of account or financial statements for the CC.

Woollam received an e-mail from Hodgkins containing about 40 pages of business-related information and records.

In another e-mail, Hodgkins said the business couldn’t handle having two people with “high” salaries. He and Alasdair Muir both held a 42,5% membership stake in the close corporation and drew monthly salaries.

Hodgkins has now denied having taken flight with the proceeds of the June 2009 Concert in the Park, leaving R130 000 of debt for his business partners to pick up as was alleged.

 

Hodgkins said claims that R260 000 — the proceeds from tickets sold at the Concert in the Park — was believed to be sitting in his private account are “equally unfounded”, adding that the income and expenditure figures from that concert can verify this.

“There was no such sum available to be placed in any account after the deduction of payments for the concert,” said Hodgkins.

“The claim by Mike Woollam that an amount of R126 000 was paid from the business account into my private account during April and May is indeed correct, and Alisdair Muir should have borne testament to the fact that payments for his salary were made from my personal account, as were payments for performers’ airfares, costs for posters and leaflets and amounts for arrangements …”

Included in the sum was R80 000 as remuneration for his services.

“The amount of reimbursement to me from the business for these justifiable claims amounted to the sum of R126 000.”

Hodgkins said he is communicating with Woollam in respect of “any other issues” and that there is a matter between them that will be amicably resolved, “as was pointed out in a letter to him in July 2009”.

“In summary, there is no credence to the ‘apparent’ claim that I left the country with takings from the Concert in the Park and this allegation is untrue.”

Hodgkins said the R130 000 that Woollam was left to pay out of his own pocket and which was reported to have been owed to creditors after the staging of Concert in the Park was actually R85 350 after adjustments, and was “a figure known to the business”. He said there was a contingency “in respect of the upcoming All-time Classics Concert to provide for this”.

“There is undoubtedly an instigator focused on presenting these unfounded, unsolicited and scurrilously underhanded rumours with the intention of bringing my name into disrepute. This will be dealt with legally in due course,” said Hodgkins.

Responding to Hodgkins’s statements through his attorney, Woollam said he stood by his previous comments as reported in The Witness. “These were made in good faith and were based on information then available to me from the records of the business left behind after Hodgkins’s sudden and unexplained departure.”

He said there remain “many unanswered questions relating to the business and I would welcome direct contact from Hodgkins to discuss them”.

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