In­vest­ment com­pany heads ar­rested for graft

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - METRO - SHAIN GERMANER shain.germaner@inl.co.za

TEN months af­ter Week­end Argus sis­ter ti­tle the Sat­ur­day Star re­vealed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into rare metal in­vest­ment com­pany Global Elec­tio In­vest­ments, four of its top lead­er­ship have been ar­rested, in­clud­ing two for­mer di­rec­tors.

The com­pany, sus­pected of de­fraud­ing hun­dreds of un­sus­pect­ing South African clients of an es­ti­mated R500 mil­lion, promised growth in­ter­est rates of up to 23%.

In Jan­uary, the Hawks re­vealed it had en­tered into a joint probe with pri­vate firm IRS Foren­sic In­ves­ti­ga­tions, af­ter 30 of the com­pany’s clients came for­ward claim­ing the com­pany had de­frauded them of tens of mil­lions of rand.

For years, the com­pany used boiler room­style tac­tics, call­ing up po­ten­tial in­vestors across South Africa to ag­gres­sively sell “bas­kets” of Earth me­tals that would be stored in Dubai as their value in­creased.

The most ba­sic pack­age, the de­fence bas­ket, which held ma­te­ri­als used in mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles and cars, sold for R43 000.

The green en­ergy bas­ket, hold­ing me­tals used in so­lar pan­els and other Earth-friendly prod­ucts, went for about R50 000. The fu­ture tech bas­ket, which sup­pos­edly held me­tals used in PlayS­ta­tions and home ap­pli­ances, went for al­most R100 000 and the smart­phone bas­ket for R500 000.

On Tues­day, for­mer com­pany di­rec­tor and Ira­nian na­tional Jalil Mo­tazedi was ar­rested, along­side three South Africans: di­rec­tor Ian Mc­Gre­gor, Kyle Pil­lay and Shau­nita Singh.

While the four have been charged with 24 counts of fraud based on 24 for­mer clients, it’s un­der­stood po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors and the State pros­e­cu­tor are still can­vass­ing other in­vestors to in­crease the num­ber of charges.

On Wed­nes­day, the group ap­peared at the Spe­cialised Com­mer­cial Crimes Court in Jo­han­nes­burg, where Mc­Gre­gor, Pil­lay and Singh ap­plied for bail. Rep­re­sented by Jo­han Ek­steen of BDK At­tor­neys, all three claimed in­no­cence, say­ing they wished to clear their names in court.

As the trio did not have pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions and were pre­pared to hand over their pass­ports to en­sure they did not evade trial, they were each granted bail. How­ever, Mo­tazedi was un­able to con­tinue with his bail ap­pli­ca­tion due to his sta­tus as a for­eign na­tional, and he is due to ap­pear in court on Wed­nes­day.

IRS di­rec­tor Chad Thomas said the ar­rests were a joint ef­fort with the Pre­to­ria K9 Unit and mem­bers of the Joburg Hawks Com­mer­cial Crimes Unit.

“IRS has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing this case since late 2016 and now rep­re­sents in ex­cess of 40 vic­tims of the so­phis­ti­cated fraud. Mul­ti­ple cases have been opened and sev­eral sus­pects iden­ti­fied in mul­ti­ple ju­ris­dic­tions,” he said.

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