Krok heir faces R228m tax bill

2013-08-25 11:06

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Pretoria - Mark Krok, billionaire heir to an apartheid-era skin-lightening company, will be about R228m poorer if the SA Revenue Service (Sars) and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) have their way.

The Sunday Times reported that Sars, on behalf of the ATO, is seeking an order to ring-fence Krok’s local assets – including a R37.5m mansion in Clifton, Cape Town, as well as vast chunks of pharmaceutical company Aspen and casino company Tsogo Sun.

In 2006, Australia kicked off Operation Wickenby, targeting high-profile tax evaders – and their lawyers and accountants – who have set up shell companies and trusts in tax havens to evade the Australian tax office. Maxim Krok, Mark’s estranged half-brother, has also come under the spotlight. In 2010, the ATO unleashed investigators to scrutinise his tax records.

Controversy, however, has dogged the Krok family for years as they have steadily accumulated untold wealth over the past five decades. Abe and Solly Krok, father and uncle to Mark and Maxim, started by making their first fortune out of skin-lightening concoctions. They since went from strength to strength after venturing into the luxury resort and casino arena.

Mark Krok’s lawyers Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr do not deny that Mark owes money to the ATO but they are disputing the way the amounts have been tallied, how they have been presented and the way Sars went about getting the preservation order for Mark’s local assets.

Soccer and skin lighteners

When 83-year-old Abe Krok, father of Mark, died at the age of 83 in January, it was the end of a long, colourful and somewhat controversial business story.

According to SAPA, the origins of the family fortune, was a modest, backstreet pharmacy in central Johannesburg where Abe and his twin Solly launched a highly-successful skin-lightening manufacturing business.

The twin brothers expanded their business interests to found Gold Reef Resorts Limited, The Golden Horse Casino and Mykonos Casino.

Abe also became widely known for his sporting interests, particularly after his purchase of the Sundowns soccer club in the 1980s, from the insolvent estate of convicted fraudster Zola Mahobe.

Krok eventually sold control of the club to current president and mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe, but remained the honorary chairperson until his death.

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