Singh’s wife awaits seized flats decision

2014-05-23 00:00

DURBAN businessman Jay Singh will find out today whether or not his wife’s company, Woodglaze Trading will regain control over 1 244 low income flats in Phoenix which were seized by the state and placed under curatorship in April.

Acting judge Peter Olsen said he intends handing down a ruling in the matter at midday today in the Pietermaritzburg high court. The judge yesterday declined to postpone Woodglaze’s application for a “reconsideration” of the preservation order granted originally by Judge Rishi Seegobin, so that the Phoenix Residents Association could intervene and file papers in the case because he said whatever he decided would not have any impact on the rights of the tenants.

Advocate Maurice Pillemer SC, for Wood­glaze, argued that the application on which the office of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) based its contention that the Phoenix complexes were the “proceeds of crime”, was flawed in a number of respects, and said there was no evidence of any criminality on the part of Woodglaze Trading.

Pillemer said the flats were built by Woodglaze Trading with its own money on land it had legally bought from the municipality.

If there was any irregularity alleged with regard to the subsequent sale of the flats this did not make the property itself an instrument or proceeds of crime.

Advocate Coenraad Rheeder SC, who appeared on behalf of the NDPP and Asset Forfeiture Unit, agreed with Pillemer that two properties — affecting 750 flats — were incorrectly described in the original application papers and therefore currently don’t fall under the preservation order.

He however urged the court to give the state a chance to correct the mistakes and to reaffirm the preservation order in respect of all the flats, and to order that the rentals emanating from them be administered by the curator.

Rheeder agreed with a suggestion by the judge that the state’s papers in support of the application were “a bit thin” and lacking in detail, but submitted they contained sufficient information to warrant the preservation of the property in question.

He said the NDPP only had to show the court that there were reasonable grounds to suspect the property was an instrument or proceeds of crime to obtain a preservation order.

Woodglaze has been accused of fraudulently accessing R235 million worth of grants from the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) by setting up the Moko Rental Housing Project to access state funds to buy the flats.

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