Sushi king duped

2011-06-04 18:12

Multi-millionaire businessman Kenny Kunene was swindled out of almost R3,5 million after he tried to book international performers Nicki Minaj and Drake.

The bookings were made last year for a concert Kunene was organising, but the event never took place.

On Friday night the so-called sushi king staged another concert at the Dome in Northgate, Johannesburg, featuring rappers Lil Kim, Fat Joe, Timbaland, singer Ciara and DJ Scratch to “prove many wrong over my ability to secure international artists to perform in South Africa”.

The club owner, who has been involved in several controversies recently, including throwing money at people during a recent Siyanqoba rally, might be cleared of “lying to Minaj and Drake fans” after several international gossip sites reported that an acquaintance of Drake’s had defrauded people.

The man, Drew Wilson, was arrested in Canada on 14 counts of fraud in March.

“No one called me about these allegations. I was conned; remember I was a conman and I know how these people work,” said Kunene.

Wilson – who allegedly posed as the rapper Drake’s friend and manager – was busted by the Toronto police for falsifying documents, impersonation and obtaining credit under false pretences.

Another man, Joey Turner Jnr, was also arrested months earlier for posing as Drake’s manager and now faces charges of fraud in the US.

When he heard about both the fraudsters, the 24-year-old Canadian musician and actor apologised publicly stating that it had “been brought to my attention that false promoters and booking agents are illegally using my name and likeness to promote concerts and club appearances for their own financial gain.

“I apologise to any fan that has been a victim of these circumstances or feels let down by false advertising.”

Kunene and his business partner Gayton McKenzie, who jointly own ZAR clubs in Johannesburg and Cape Town, can score from this as Friday night’s stars revealed they would spread the word in the US that they were impeccably hosted.

“This man is a good guy, he treated my family like he would his own and I will definitely be telling all the other artists to come visit South Africa through him because he knows how to treat guests,” said Timbaland at a press conference.

But the ZARfest concert tickets were not exactly selling like hot cakes and the organisers have had to cancel the Cape Town and Durban legs of the tour.

Kunene said about the cancellations: “It didn’t make business sense to host concerts where ticket sales were not booming.”

He refused to divulge how much it cost him to bring all five stars here, but boasted of having accommodated them in “five-star hotels, flying them in private jets to several locations including on a game drive and to Zimbabwe.

“I delivered everything, getting all five artists here despite the cancellations. Had the artists performed in those cities (Durban and Cape Town), it would have jeopardised my credibility in organising events generally,” he said.

Big Concert’s chief operating officer John Langford estimates it might have cost Kunene more than R10 million to organise the event.

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