POSH WASN’T IN­VITED

Saturday Star - - METRO - SHAIN GERMANER shain.germaner@inl.co.za NA­TURE

TEN months since 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 out 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 clients came for­ward claim­ing it had de­frauded them.

For years, the com­pany used boiler-room style 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, sold for R43 000.

The green en­ergy bas­ket, hold­ing me­tals used in so­lar pan­els, 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 went 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 is un­der­stood po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors and the State pros­e­cu­tor are still can­vass­ing other in­vestors to in­crease the num­ber of charges.

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

The trio were pre­pared to hand over their pass­ports and were granted bail. How­ever, Mo­tazedi was un­able to con­tinue with his bail ap­pli­ca­tion due to his sta­tus as a for­eign na­tional, with his pro­ceed­ings set to con­tinue on Wed­nes­day.

IRS di­rec­tor Chad Thomas said the ar­rests were a joint ef­fort with the Pre­to­ria THE Spice Girls have ad­mit­ted they “never asked” Vic­to­ria Beck­ham to be a part of their re­union tour. Geri Horner, Mel B, Mel C and Emma Bun­ton said they “as­sumed” the fash­ion de­signer would be un­avail­able so didn’t in­vite her. K9 Unit, and the Joburg Hawks Com­mer­cial Crimes Unit.

“IRS has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing this case since late 2016. Mul­ti­ple case have been opened and sev­eral sus­pects have been iden­ti­fied in mul­ti­ple ju­ris­dic­tions, in­clud­ing Spain, Ser­bia, the UK, Hong Kong, Dubai, and South Africa.

“The ma­jor­ity of the South African sus­pects were prox­ies for the in­ter­na­tional syn­di­cate,” said Thomas.

Although the lo­cal em­ploy­ees acted as prox­ies, the ma­jor­ity of the South African sus­pects re­alised the com­pany was en­gag­ing in fraud, he said.

“Some sus­pects made vol­un­tary state­ments whereas other sus­pects ap­proached a law firm only af­ter cases had been opened and then sub­mit­ted state­ments to the Hawks, claim­ing to be whis­tle-blow­ers,” he said.

“Who we be­lieve the mas­ter­mind of the fraud, Arthur Jan Olivier Lod­der, is still at large. He is a Dutch ci­ti­zen, who has been spot­ted in Spain and Ser­bia. We are hop­ing our law en­force­ment agen­cies will ap­proach In­ter­pol to au­tho­rise an in­ter­na­tional Red No­tice.

“We ex­pect sev­eral more ar­rests in the com­ing months, no­tably of other lo­cal South African sus­pects.” THE Sat­ur­day Star’s en­vi­ron­men­tal re­porter, Sheree Bega, this week won the Gaut­eng re­gional Vo­da­com Jour­nal­ist of the Year Awards in the Csi/sus­tain­abililty cat­e­gory.

“This year’s re­gional win­ner of­fered an in­sight­ful anal­y­sis of the on­go­ing is­sue of air pol­lu­tion on the Highveld that en­dan­gers the en­vi­ron­ment and the health of res­i­dents and work­ers,” the judges noted.

It is Bega’s third win at the Vo­da­com Jour­nal­ist of the Year Awards – she won the na­tional award in the Csi/sus­tain­abil­ity cat­e­gory in 2014 and the re­gional award in the same cat­e­gory in 2016.

MAT­TER OF FACT

ON Sat­ur­day, Septem­ber 29, we ran a story head­lined “Jeppe Girls’ High hi­jab fi­asco may end up court”. In the cor­ner of the page we had a link to a pre­vi­ous story which read­ers could find on iol.co.za with a pic­ture of a woman with her face com­pletely cov­ered.

The SA Mus­lim Net­work has pointed out that the pic­ture is of a woman in niqab and not in hi­jab. A hi­jab is a head cov­er­ing worn in pub­lic by some Mus­lim women. This is the term which our story re­ferred to.

We re­gret the er­ror.

SI­MONE MICHELETTI Seron­dela Lodge via Reuters

MORE than 400 buf­falo be­lieved to have been chased by li­ons drowned in the Chobe river in north­ern Botswana this week, on the coun­try’s bor­der with Nam­bia. |Rare metal firm lead­ers ar­rested

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