Investors in an alleged Dundee-based Ponzi scheme, Coin-it, are trying to recover about R10 million allegedly owed to them by the company.
Ninety people brought an urgent application to the Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday seeking that Coin-it be provisionally liquidated.
No order was granted and the matter has been adjourned to December to allow more parties to intervene and for court papers to be filed.
Wiseman Linda said in an affidavit that there are three reasons for wanting the company liquidated.
It is unable to pay its debts and is commercially insolvent, its business and operation are illegal and the company seems to be used as a “vehicle for a financial scam or illegal scheme”.
Linda explained how he thinks the company operates. He said that an individual pays money to the company to buy a vehicle such as a front loader, bus or truck.
This payment is in the form of a “deposit” and then a monthly instalment has to be paid to the company.
“The investor such as me does not see or take possession of the vehicle allegedly purchased,” he said.
Coin-it then allegedly leases out the vehicle in return for money. It pays the investor monthly rental, or a portion of the money which it allegedly receives.
Linda said he applied to buy a Tractor-Loader-Backhoe (TLB) and paid a deposit of R130 000 in February.
According to his agreement with Coin-it he owes it R10 720 a month over 20 months. Coin-it agreed to pay him R23 500 a month. It then deducts his instalment of R10 720 a month and he gets the remainder, R12 779.
He added that the agreement states that the company’s main activity is to provide directly or indirectly all kinds of construction and plant hire services.
From Linda’s experience, everything seemed to be going according to plan until June, when he stopped receiving payments.
He said that the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) published a statement in August that it was investigating the company’s activities.
Director of Coin-it, Michael Andrew Anthony de Beer, said in reply that he can’t deal with everything in Linda’s affidavit because he has not been given enough time.
Also, since documents and computer systems have been seized by the FSCA, he has limited information available on the people who have brought the application.
Nonetheless, he is of the view they don’t have valid claims against his company.
He said that Coin-it is no longer being investigated by the authority, but by the commercial crimes unit.
De Beer denies that the company is commercially insolvent.
Due to a complaint to the FSCA, the company’s assets were seized, which has no bearing on the company’s solvency, he said.
In due course the company will honour all payments that may become due to any party.
Certain parties have not received payments since before the seizure took place. This is because a large number of unauthorised parties were placed on the company’s database. Payments were delayed in some instances to identify and remove these parties.
The matter was adjourned.