‘Aids cure’ tycoon dies

2014-05-24 00:00

CONVICTED Durban fraudster John Ellis, embroiled in a protracted court battle with investors over the multi-million rand funding of a contentious “Aids cure”, died under suspicious circumstances on Thursday night.

Ellis, a director of Edge to Edge Global Investments, and Jan Louw are alleged to have duped a group of shareholders out of as much as R80 million to sustain their flash lifestyles.

His death followed a tense day in the Durban high court on Thursday during an application for a final liquidation order against the company.

Irate shareholders insist that Ellis and Louw used their funding to enrich themselves instead of developing an “Aids cure” nutrition pack.

The circumstances leading up to Ellis’s death remain unclear, with his family insisting that he had had a heart attack late on Thursday night at his Marriot Road home.

A family member, who would only identify himself as Ellis’s brother-in-law “Gerard”, confirmed that the businessman died of a “heart attack” but a post mortem would be conducted to ascertain the exact cause of his death.

Last year the company was placed under provisional liquidation when the shareholders, led by Durban business heavyweight Anthony Pinfold, secured an order to liquidate the company on the grounds of allegations of fraud. Louw and Ellis claimed to have a pending patent on a “nutritional pack”.

Both have links to another controversial company named Imuniti, which peddles an “immunity booster pack” for HIV/Aids sufferers, claiming that the R180 packs of nutritional supplements promote the functioning of the immune system.

Imuniti was extensively investigated on suspicion of fraud when Ellis and Louw used Edge to Edge to place a dummy order with the supplying company in order to push up the share price.

Documents show that Ellis was convicted of fraud in 2000 and sentenced to 40 months in prison or a R8 000 fine.

Shareholder Hennie Stassen said that Ellis’s death may have an impact on their on-going case. “We have been waiting so long for the outcome of this case and now I have no idea how this is going to affect things,” he said.

He could not be drawn to comment on whether Ellis may have taken secrets to the grave.

“I left the business in 2012 so I am a bit far removed from things. This may leave us in a difficult position,” he added.

Repeated attempts to contact Louw for comment proved unsuccessful at the time of going to press. Tina Halstead of Halstead Paola Attorneys confirmed that the final order of liquidation of Edge To Edge Global Investments Limited was granted by Judge Dhaya Pillay yesterday.

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za

@jeff__wicks on Twitter

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