Tony Mostert of A. L. Mostert & Co Attorneys has written to Noseweek to address a number of allegations relating to him and his firm in nose160. Some of these allegations were false and defamatory, with serious prejudicial consequences for Mostert and his firm’s reputation. Noseweek apologises for the incorrect allegations and they are unconditionally withdrawn. Any negative innuendo with regard to Mostert is similarly withdrawn.
For a full unpacking of the story, see “Tony Mostert calls for an apology – and gets it” in the online edition of nose160 (free access). In brief:
► Noseweek had contended that, despite hundreds of millions of rand having been recovered, nothing had to date been paid to pensioners of the various pension funds under Mostert’s curatorship. While not wrong, the contention was misleading. Insofar as it might have implied that the curator was inappropriately hanging on to these substantial sums, it was doubly misleading.
Days after publication of nose160, Old Mutual Corporate wrote to confirm that payments of surplus benefits to “stakeholders” in eight of the nine pension funds had in fact commenced in August 2012. By 28 January 2013, the total already paid out amounted to R255.3m. A balance of R541.5 million still to be distributed remained invested with various financial institutions.
► However, the frequent references by other media to payments being made to “pensioners” were equally misleading. Despite the pensioners’ cause having been the driving – and emotive – reason repeatedly given for the whole curatorship and surplus recovery exercise, the sums paid out over the past year have not gone to pensioners. They were paid to former members of the funds who had left them prior to retirement.
Pensioners did not share in the largesse since the overwhelming majority of them received everything they were entitled to – and more – when their pensions were transferred out of these funds more than 15 years ago.
The supervising actuary, Dr Erich Potgieter, confirmed that former members are also the only ones who stand to share in the remaining surplus funds, in terms of the apportionment scheme approved by the FSB.
► There are a substantial number that remain unpaid but they are regarded as untraceable, or are owed such small amounts that it is uneconomical to hire tracing agents to find them.
The likelihood is that a major part of the recovered millions will eventually be used for a further distribution to stakeholders – or be forfeited to the State.
► Noseweek significantly overstated the total recoveries – they amounted to R940 million, not R1.2 billion – and also overstated the total amount paid to Mostert & Co in curators’ and legal fees: Noseweek estimated R400m, Mostert states the correct total as R204m and sets out the facts of his eight-year administration of nine pension funds to support his contention that the fees were more than reasonable and that he has done the job under difficult conditions as quickly as humanly possible.
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