Singhs want state to return low-income flats seized in fraud case

2014-05-07 00:00

A COMPANY linked to controversial businessman Jay Singh has denied any criminality linked to the construction and proposed sale of over 1 200 low-income flats seized by the state.

And Singh wants the flats that were last month placed under curatorship by the Pietermaritzburg high court returned — as well as control over the lucrative rentals, which are estimated to be in the region of R2,5 million per month.

Woodglaze Trading — whose sole director is Singh’s wife Shireen Annamalay — attempted to have the seizure order by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) stopped last Friday.

The matter was postponed until May 22 as it was not deemed urgent.

The AFU seized four large property developments in Phoenix consisting of 1 244 flats. The properties were built and managed by Woodglaze.

Woodglaze is accused of fraudulently accessing R236 million worth of grants from the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) by setting up a social housing company called Moko Rental Housing Project to access state funds to buy the flats from Woodglaze.

The sole director of Moko was also Annamalay. The SHRA is being investigated for allowing the transaction to take place in the first place.

In a separate but related investigation, a further R101,7 million in cash was attached by the AFU from a Standard Bank account held by Durban-based social housing company First Metro.

First Metro was in the process of purchasing the same 1 244 flats from Moko and had already taken transfer of the properties in March 2013.

They received the R101 million from SHRA that same month on the instruction of KZN Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay. First Metro had previously stated it would co-operate with the AFU and has since distanced itself from the purchase of the flats.

First Metro and not Woodglaze or Moko was served with the the AFU order because the properties are in their name.

But in Woodglaze’s papers they asked for the seizure order to be set aside, to prevent the curator — Berrange Incorporated — from collecting any further rental and for the properties to be transferred back to them.

Manager of Woodglaze, Pravash Inderjeeth, said in an affidavit that there is no relation between the Standard Bank investment account and the 1 244 flats.

He said because the two matters were not linked and First Metro has “repudiated” their purchase agreement to purchase the units “Woodglaze now retains the right to rentals due”.

“I deny that there was any criminality or fraud involved. Woodglaze has no interest and never had any interest in the money that is being held in the Standard Bank account.”

Inderjeeth said none of the transactions surrounding the flats was “fraudulent” or “can hardly be said to be the proceeds of crime”. He said the AFU has “misconstrued the situation due to insufficient information and inadequate documentation” and that the application is “abuse of the process of court”.

“The order should be set aside and dismissed. The founding papers do not make out a case for any criminal conduct on the part of Woodglaze nor Moko,” said Inderjeeth.

He said Woodglaze had legally acquired the land from eThekwini.

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