How Lowe can you go?

The dirty business of the CEO of mining company Resgen includes environmental pillage, theft and paedophilia.

Resource Generation Ltd (Resgen), a company listed both in Australia and on the JSE, is currently seeking to raise funds to develop the controversial Boikarabelo open-cast coal mine in the Waterberg region. The project is to be undertaken by its BEE-compliant local subsidiary, Ledjadja Coal.

Various NGOs have been desperately campaigning to stop coal mining there, as it threatens to permanently poison the water supply to huge swathes of already drought-stricken South Africa. Besides its impact on human settlements and agriculture, it could destroy the Kruger National Park.

No surprise: in keeping with the culture of the Zuma era, Resgen’s single biggest shareholder is the government-controlled Public Inves­t­ment Corporation.

In October the Resgen Board issued a statement announcing that, “given the current state of negotiations with proposed financiers”, it has deemed it in the best interests of the company to extend the employment contract of its CEO,  Rob Lowe, for at least a further 12 months. His contract provides for a large salary and a very good success bonus.

 Resgen CEO Rob Lowe

Who is Rob Lowe? Where have we come across his name before? What sort of man would determinedly set about promoting for personal profit a mining operation which threatens such huge potential cost to nature and the country?

This is what Noseweek has discovered:

In November 1994 police in the county of Dorset in England raided the home of a Bournemouth solicitor (attorney) named Robert David Norman Lowe. There they seized 164 video cassettes, 362 magazines, 271 photographs and nine camcorder tapes, all of a paedophile nature. The following day Lowe was arrested on his return to the UK from a business trip abroad – in all probability, to Thailand.

In February 1995 Robert Lowe was sentenced by the Bournemouth Crown Court to seven months imprisonment for having illegally imported indecent and obscene material.

In November of that year an application was brought before the Solicitors Tribunal in London to have him struck off the roll of solicitors for having brought the profession into disrepute. Lowe did not appear and was not represented. He had, however, written a letter to the UK Solicitors’ Complaints Bureau six months earlier in which he made “certain admissions”. In the letter,  which he wrote from a hotel room in Zimbabwe, Lowe said he would shortly be leaving for the Far East and would not have a permanent address in the foreseeable future. He accepted that his conduct had brought the solicitors’ profession into disrepute and assured them that he had no intention to ever again practice law. He suggested that the Tribunal might find the psychiatric report prepared for his criminal trial of some assistance – which it did. The Tribunal expressed considerable sympathy for Lowe, having taken into account the report of the psychiatrist who was in no doubt that his problems had their roots in his own unfortunate childhood. It nevertheless remained a serious criminal offence, and he was struck from the roll of solicitors.

In nose49 Noseweek revealed how, in 1998, Dr Frank Carlisle, a well-respected educationalist, had been defrauded by Mercantile Bank and its crooked head of corporate banking, Rob Lowe. Yes, the same Robert Lowe had joined the bank in Johannesburg in 1997 and down the line arranged a dozen unauthorised withdrawals from Carlisle’s bank account into his own, before fleeing the country – for Thailand.

Carlisle had first discovered there was something seriously up (or down) with his Mercantile bank account when, on holiday in Durban he attempted to draw some cash, and was informed there were insufficient funds in an account that, when he last heard, held more than R25m.

He set up a meeting with his bank manager, Lowe, for 18 January 1999. But by then Lowe had disappeared. On 21 January, Carlisle received, by fax, a handwritten note from Lowe on the stationery of the Meridien Park hotel in Frankfurt. “Dear Frank,” the fax began, “After careful reflection I have decided to absent myself ....”. Alan Greenstein, Mercantile’s head of operations too received, a few days later, a fax from Lowe, this one from Thailand. In it Lowe revealed that he had left his company BMW at Johannesburg International Airport.

Experienced forensic accountant Frik Botha, upon examining the entire record, found that the unauthorised and unexplained debits from Carlisle’s bank account totalled a staggering R20,962,624.70.

For example, one of the debits was described on the bank’s records (kept hidden by Lowe) as a payment to a company called African Capital. A Cipro search reveals that Robert David Norman Lowe registered the company African Capital Group, and became its first director in October 1997 – at about the time Carlisle approached Mercantile Bank to open an account. The company was said to be based at an address in Edenvale, Johannesburg

Mercantile, rather than disclose who benefited by the transactions, and showing what authorisation they had – or did not have – took to the trenches with their lawyers. It was well known that their counsel’s instructions were to “drag the matter out till Carlisle runs out of money or dies”.

They succeeded. Carlisle ran out of money, and in March 2006 he died aged 68. This was not before Mercantile had tried to have him committed to prison for being in contempt of a court order restraining him from communicating with anyone regarding his case.

At the end of the day, seven years after the sorry saga began, the final and only defence, offered by Mercantile to Carlisle’s claims was Prescription – a legal rule that after a certain time (usually three years) a debt falls away.

A year or two after his disappearance to an unknown address in Thailand, Robert Lowe quietly returned – to Cape Town. In 2002 he is recorded as a director of various Cape Town based companies, with his residential addresses in the Greenpoint area. By 2013 he had moved up a notch: to an apartment on the sparkling waters of the V&A Waterfront.

That, dear reader, is the sort of man who wants to rip up the coal beds of the Waterberg, regardless of the consequences for the environment and the people of South Africa. Coal mining is, after all, a dirty business.

paedophile materials
Robert David Norman Lowe
Mercantile Bank
coal mining
Rob Lowe
Resource Generation Ltd
theft by bank employees
Alan Greenstein
Frank Carlisle
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Submitted by : Phillip Carlisle on 2018-01-31 11:32:25
It’s been over a decade since I let you know about the passing of Dr Frank Carlisle, my father. A concerned fellow citizen wanting more details about Rob Lowe brought your article, “How Lowe can you go” (nose218), to my attention. It brought back a flood of very sad memories. I tried to bury the whole saga along with my dad. I had no fight left, after seeing what the pursuit for the truth did to my entire family. My parents never got the chance to live out the retirement that they had planned, travelling around South Africa in a camper-van.

When Mercantile Bank tried to have my dad arrested for breaking a gagging order by virtue of an email, it was time to give up. The pen is not always mightier than the sword, and it’s useless without ink.

My mom had to give up medical aid along the line, and she died after receiving inferior cancer care at a municipal hospital, and before she reached 65. She was buried in Mossel Bay, where the two had met and later married in 1963. My dad chose to stay in Mossel Bay and in touch with the good memories, but sadly died from a stroke in another municipal hospital, only nine months later. He was only 66 years old, but withered and battered and unfairly abused.

Without Rob Lowe’s theft and the bank’s resulting position, and without the years of endless litigation in pursuit of the truth, and without the real fear of arrest and harassment, I do believe 100% that my parents would have enjoyed a much longer and happier life together.

I was robbed of my only family and my children, of their grandparents and any legacy or memory.

In cruel irony, on the same morning, not long after receiving the phone call about my dad’s passing, I walked passed Rob Lowe and his partner enjoying R1,000 crayfish on the Camps Bay strip. It took all my restraint not to help that mid-morning brunch in, down, and out the other side in one filthy swoop.

However, from what I read about his sick pornographic past, a crispy crustacean violation might have gone down nicely with a glass of Chardonnay and a sea view.

It was uplifting and heartwarming to read the words “well-respected educationalist”, and I thank you for that. My dad worked 14-hour days all his life, lectured on Saturdays, his brunch was a sandwich behind his typewriter, and during his 20 years at the helm of the Production Management Institute (PMI), a Johannesburg training and education centre, he helped tens of thousands of people achieve emancipation through education. He pioneered progression and portability two decades before SAQA adopted the principals. Adult students with no secondary education could progress through the levels and eventually get a B.Sc Hons. Rob Lowe eroded it all.

This is the end I guess. I don’t hold out much hope for justice and accountability.

In much appreciation, and keep up the good work.
Submitted by : Vic on 2017-11-26 11:28:20
Shows you that despite King 1 to 4 and all other so called ethics policies coming from listed companies, they don't give a shit about the environment and the people they hire. How did Mercantile Bank hire this guy with what must have been a CV full of unexplained periods of unemployment?
Submitted by : Mike & Val Turner of RANDBURG on 2017-11-25 12:25:01
Why is this piece of shit allowed to remain in South Africa??
Submitted by : Clive Varejes of GALLO MANOR on 2017-11-25 10:40:53
I find it unbelievable that Mercantile Bank and other banks and insurance agencies in South Africa can be so despicable that they would go to the lengths of drawing out court cases, specifically where they and/ their staff have blatantly stolen monies, in order to bankrupt their accusers and make the cases disappear.
Is there no way these atrocious acts can be stopped?
Of course I have no doubt that the attorneys acting on their behalf continually ask them to please settle the court case so that they can stop earning the obscene amounts of money they do.
Shame on our despicable banking and legal systems!


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