One judge who's on the case
Sadly, we only rarely have occasion to compliment a judge for managing to keep the interests of justice and of society at large in mind while settling a mere dispute between individuals. This is one such rare occasion.
In the Pretoria High Court on 23 August, Judge Brian Southwood was faced with what would, by all appearances, be just another post-divorce scrap about money. In fact it was probably the sort of case in which, after their morning in court, the parties would settle on a figure over lunch, and then ask his lordship to make their agreement an order of court in the afternoon before tea.
Agamemnon Kavallineas, well-known baker and property owner of Hatfield, Pretoria, was demanding repayment of R250,000 that, he claimed, he had lent to his former sister-in-law, Rosalinde Kavallineas. While admitting having received R250 000 from him in February 2003, she denied owing him anything. In fact, she contended, he owed and had agreed to pay her a further R250,000 in settlement of her claim for R500,000 against a controversial, not to say strange business called The Finance Room operated by one Morné Humpel. (Agamemnon was also once a director of The Finance Room, but Rosalinde discretely refrained from mentioning it.)
What Rosalinde’s advocate was instructed to reveal to the court was that her ex-husband Dimitrios and her brother-in-law Agamemnon had invested huge sums in The Finance Room. He could have said that it was suspected of being an illegal deposit-taking institution and a money laundry, but that would have been rubbing it in a bit, so he didn’t. What he did do was confront the well-known Kavallineas brothers with documentation showing that The Finance Room had credited them with between 9% and 11% interest on their investment per month, and that, from June 2001 to November 2002, interest ranging from R286,000 to nearly R1m a month had been credited to Agamemnon’s account – a total of more than R8 million over the period. And that, in the same period, Dimitrios had been credited with R2 million in interest.
To add a bit of spice to proceedings, counsel then asked Dimitri about the R200,000 he had once agreed to deposit in a Swiss bank account for Rosalinde. He was forced to admit that he had, instead, deposited all the traveller’s cheques he had illegally collected from helpful friends into an account he had opened in his own name at Credit Suisse.
By lunchtime Agamemnon was frantically scanning the court benches to see if he might recognize anyone that looked vaguely like someone from the tax office – and signalling his desperate willingness to settle over a quick lunch – on Rosalinde’s terms, naturally.
And, indeed, before afternoon tea, Judge Southwood had been requested to make their settlement agreement (marked “X”) an order of court. Which he was happy to do.
But, contrary to tradition, the judge had not been asleep. He noted in his judgment that there was no suggestion in the evidence that any provision was made for the payment of income tax on the interest received. And that several exchange control offences had been testified to in his presence. So he ordered copies of the evidence and his judgment to be urgently transmitted by the court registrar to the Exchange Control Department of the SA Reserve Bank and to the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Commissioner for Inland Revenue.
Someone kindly also sent noseweek a copy, enabling us to express our appreciation for the judge’s attention to duty. Since then we have not been asleep either. We can already tell you that Judge Southwood has hit the tip of an iceberg. The story involves a murder (which we’ll solve next issue), the disappearance of hundreds of millions (so far only Humpel has been arrested), and the list of those involved in this extraordinary high-stakes money game that stretches from the usual suspects (such as Benjamin Liebman of Corp Capital and Andrew Philips of The Ranch – they all lost a pile) to top Nashua executives (who lost R30m-plus) to Carl Landman Oosthuizen, employed at the SA Reserve Bank as – can you believe it! – our registrar of banks. (Oosthuizen, who was best man at Humpel’s wedding, made money. Humpel describes Oosthuizen as his “mentor”.)
And, seen entering and leaving in smart suits are top officials of the National Union of Mineworkers....
Don’t say you didn’t read it first in noseweek – and there’s much more to come!
Where's Puso Tladi?
Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Puso Leonard Tladi, spokesman for the ministery of defence from 1994 until early 2000, is asked to contact the editor of noseweek.
Tladi was last seen on the East Rand by his family on 8 August 2003. He had served in MK as deputy to General Andrew Masondo and was an active member of the ANC Youth League before joining the defence ministry as Joe Modise’s personal spokesman and confidant. After Modise’s death, Tladi went into business and is said to have had a discrete role in managing the family’s financial affairs and offshore interests.
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