Broker skips with millions

2009-07-27 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG insurance broker has allegedly skipped the country with more than R5 million worth of his clients’ investments, leaving his employees with no salaries and abandoning his wife of 13 years.

Mike Hale (60), owner of MJCM Insurance Brokers at 296 Bulwer Street, left the country two weeks ago with millions in funds that he had supposedly invested for clients.

He also allegedly swept his company accounts clean and left his wife — who asked The Witness not to name her due to fear of victimisation — penniless, after he stole gold coins worth thousands of rands belonging to her and withdrew money from her insurance policies.

Hale’s wife told The Witness how her husband deceived every­one, including her. She last spoke to him on the phone a week ago.

“I told him that clients were calling asking for their money and told him some files were missing, but he told me not to worry about it. Then he said I would not be hearing from him for a long time and he hung up. That was the last time I heard from him.”

Hale left the country on Thursday, July 9, supposedly for a holiday in the United Kingdom, but things took a suspicious turn when clients who believed their money had been invested with insurance companies that Hale managed did not receive their monthly interest for July.

MJCM sales manager Peter Steedman said the situation was chaotic at the office as clients started phoning to inquire about their money.

“I was on leave when Hale left for England. He left signed cheques for staff salaries, but all the cheques bounced when they were later deposited. On June 17, I was told that his clients had been calling, asking about their interest. I went back to the office and it was chaos. I tried to do damage control and searched for clients’ missing files, but there was nothing; they were all gone.”

Steedman has worked for Hale for the past 12 years as a long-term insurance broker.

His boss dealt with long-term investments and was an experienced and trusted broker.

Steedman’s attorney, Rob Dawson, said he is concerned that his client’s integrity is at stake. “My client is not aware of Hale’s dealings and was not part of what has happened. Instead, he is trying to help the people who have lost their investments”.

Steedman told Hale’s clients to come forward and show him what they have paid Hale. It appears that a lot of the investments are false.

“None of his clients can believe that he has done this. They trusted him.”

Steedman’s lawyer agreed, saying he has known Hale for the past 30 years and would not have believed that he was capable of something like this.

So far eight people who invested with Hale have come forward.

“Most of them are old people and they don’t know what to do, and unfortunately I am the bearer of bad news who has to tell them that he is gone … with their money.”

Steedman said he has calcualted that the eight have been prejudiced of a total of R5,8 million.

He said he expects that more people will come forward, and he believes this may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Hale also allegedly cleaned out his company’s accounts.

“All company accounts are overdrawn to the limit; these accounts have always been very healthy,” said Steedman.

One of Hale’s clients, Mike Nurse, is also his brother in-law. He said he is flabbergasted.

“He was part of my family and he does this to me. He should not be allowed to get away with this, taking old people’s retirement savings,” he said.

Nurse has opened a case of theft.

Apparently Hale stayed at his sister’s home in Aldridge near Birmingham, England.

His wife said she phoned his sister, but she said she has not heard from Hale since he left her home on Friday.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that the commercial crimes unit is investigating the matter.

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