Fidentia cash trickles back

Johannesburg - Nearly R110m of the R1.33bn that was embezzled by Fidentia bosses has been returned by the curators of the asset manager to a trust belonging to thousands of orphans and widows of deceased mineworkers.

By the end of September last year, the Fidentia curators had given back R109m to the Living Hands Trust, a provident fund and a nest egg for 46 000 widows and orphans who had lost their money in one of South Africa’s worst corporate scandals.

When Fidentia was placed under curatorship in 2007, R1.33bn was invested in the trust, which had been Fidentia’s biggest client.

According to the most recent curators’ report published last week on the Financial Services Board website, by the end of October last year only R194.21m of the total R1.36bn misappropriated by Fidentia had been recovered.

Apart from the amount paid out to Living Hands, according to the distribution account, an amount of R84m is available to return to investors.

The curators had spent R52.6m to get this money back. Of this, R32.9m was spent on legal fees in various court cases against individuals involved in the saga, and the joint curators’ fees amounted to R11.8m.

In the distribution account, submitted to court in November, the curators recommended that R26.2m be paid back to the Transport Education and Training Authority (Teta). This represents 13.5% of Teta’s total investment in Fidentia.

Further recommendations on payouts are R1.3m to the Antheru Investment Trust and R5.4m to investors in the Baltron network marketing scheme.

These respectively represent 0.7% and 2.8% of the original investments in Fidentia entities.

In April last year, the Antheru Investment Trust applied for the liquidation of three Fidentia entities in curatorship – Fidentia Asset Management, Fidentia Holdings and Bramber Alternative Investments.

The application was based on Antheru being a creditor of the company. According to the curators’ report, the application was made by two comrades of Fidentia mastermind J Arthur Brown.

The application to liquidate Bramber and Fidentia Holdings was rejected, and at the time a court date for the application for Fidentia Asset Management’s liquidation had not been set.

In their report to the court, the curators said it appeared that Brown had been the driving force behind the applications for liquidation.

They said they had the impression that Brown was trying every possible strategy to obfuscate the curatorship and delay its finalisation in the hope that the pending criminal case against him would be withdrawn.

According to the curators, Antheru’s case against Fidentia is worth at most R9.2m.

From their investigation, it appears that some of the money Antheru invested in Fidentia has been returned to Antheru, but not all of the money has been paid out to the Antheru investors. However, the curators want to claim the court expenses for the liquidation applications from Antheru.

Various court actions are still under way in the whole Fidentia debacle, including criminal cases against Brown and former Teta chief executive Piet Bothma.

Some assets still have to be sold, including properties at Blue Horizon Bay, Theewaterskloof, Cape Infanta as well as Fidentia’s interests in other enterprises or trusts.

The court order requires the curators to report back to the court this month on the state of affairs at Fidentia at the end of March this year.

– Sake24

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