PMB tax advisor denies he took millions from RAF victims

2017-10-31 21:32
Money. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Money. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - A tax advisor, who was entrusted with millions of rands paid out to car crash survivors by the Road Accident Fund, is now accused of refusing to say where the money has gone.

Estimates, as supplied by the Master's Office in a document filed with the Pietermaritzburg High Court, put the potential amount allegedly missing while under the care of curator Kathigasen Ponnan Pillay at about R15 million.

Pillay has denied any wrongdoing and told News24 that he has accounted for every penny and there is "no theft and no loss".

Those who rely on the money for medical care and their day to day needs, and attorneys who have since taken over the handling of the estates, tell a different story.

"We don’t know where he has gone and where the money has gone," said Patricia Dlamini, who has cared for her nephew Trevano Jonkers, now 21, since his own mom died.

Jonkers was hit by a car when he was eight years old.

'No money for food'

He suffered brain damage and other physical injuries and was paid out R850 0000 from the fund.

Dlamini claimed in June 2017 that payments from Pillay just stopped.

"My nephew may need another operation. Right now we don’t have money for food. I am working, doing washing and ironing for other people... but it is still not enough," she said.

The matter came to light in October in a high court application in which insurance company Safire secured an order compelling Pillay to produce proof of bank accounts and payments for all 10 "estates" which he controlled in terms of curatorships endorsed by the Master's Office.

Safire Chief Executive Officer Pierre Bekker said in his affidavit that Safire had provided security for Pillay’s curatorships.

In May this year, the Master's Office gave notice that Pillay had been removed as curator "for failing to account" in terms of the law.

"The Master advised that she believed a loss (about R15m) had incurred," Bekker said.

'Missing' money 

Bekker said Pillay was obliged to open individual estate bank accounts for each patient and deposit the RAF awards into those for payouts.

But to date, Pillay had allegedly refused to provide any details of these and he was apparently ignoring requests from the company and the replacement curators for documented proof of what was done under his watch.

Replacement curator attorney Dianne MacArthur told News24 that she had been trying to contact Pillay since her appointment in May this year.

"We have been to his three addresses. They were all locked up or we were told they didn’t know him. When I couldn’t get the documentation, I went back to the original RAF settlement award and then met with my client’s caregiver who gave me a list of everything that had been paid over to her.

"It seems that R500 000 is missing… this is not taking into account what Pillay would have deducted for his own fees.

"My client is underprivileged, illiterate and now penniless. And without records, I don’t know if there is anything left for him."

Attorney Howard Felix made similar allegations. His client is brain damaged and living in a shack.

He said his investigations revealed that out of about R917 000 paid out by the RAF, his client had received about R13 000.

'Failed in his duty'

He had reported all his attempts to trace Pillay to the Master’s Office, including photographs taken of locked doors and what appear to be abandoned buildings.

Felix said he had attempted to lay a complaint with the police but was told that "it is a civil matter".

Attorney Richard Lovell Greene, who is also handling one of the estates, said in response to a court order that Pillay had provided some documents "which did not help at all" and R4.4m was still unaccounted for.

"He has clearly failed in his duty and the patient is now penniless and on the street," he said.

When News24 contacted Pillay, he said he was "shocked" by the allegations. He referred questions to his attorney Subhash Maikoo, who said his client was not aware of the Safire court action, "and if he had, he would have opposed it".

Maikoo said his client had not been removed as curator by the Master, "but had asked to be removed because of ill-health".

"All the documentation - the vouchers and bank statements - are with the Master and have been since July this year," he said.

"He has properly accounted and supplied all the information."

'Resignation' 

Maikoo sent a document to News24, dated November 2015 and stamped by the Master's Office, in which he records his wish to resign because of ill-health.

He also provided letters - stamped July 2017 - in which he states that the statement of accounts for each estate are attached.

He did not provide News24 with the actual statements.

The Master’s Office did not respond to questions but, in a document provided by a source dated last week, it again placed on record that Pillay was removed "because of his failure to account".

"We have not received any documents from him in respect of the finalisation of his accounting, and if he alleges that he has lodged same with the office, he must lodge proof together with copies of all such documents lodged," the correspondence stated.

In further correspondence, the Master's Office said in response to Pillay’s "resignation", Pillay was advised to lodge all outstanding accounts with a written and signed resignation.

"These were not lodged. In spite of a diligent search, I can confirm that I have been unable to locate the letters (of July 2017)," said an official.

Read more on:    raf  |  durban  |  courts

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