The story Hennig and partners don’t want you to read
SOUTH African business tycoon Walter Hennig holds the “ultimate beneficial ownership” of Cape Town’s trendiest restaurant and nightclub, Shimmy Beach Club — linking him to one of Cape Town’s most notorious gangster-businessmen, Mark Lifman.
Lifman, who is under investigation by the directorate of priority crimes (the Hawks) for running his security company, Specialised Protection Services (SPS), illegally, is also understood to be the subject of scrutiny by the South African Revenue Services for tax evasion.
The Shimmy Beach Club, built on the south arm of the Waterfront on the water’s edge, is a firm favourite among Cape Town’s elite.
Since its opening in December 2012 — which was attended by the likes of mobster boss and alleged murderer Radovan Krejcir — celebrity guests have included Oscar Pistorius, Olympic swimmer Ryk Neethling, and Danny K and his wife, Lisa Gundelfinger.
The Sunday Times can reveal that:
Hennig, the owner of Palladino, among numerous other companies and trusts, has invested “vast amounts of money” in Shimmy Beach Club, listed as “offshore funding” in company records;
According to two sources, Lifman also sank a cash “loan” into Shimmy and provided security and restaurant equipment to it with Hennig’s knowledge. “Shimmy obtain [ed] certain restaurant supplies and security services from two entities that our clients understand are linked to Lifman . . . by September 2013 all agreements with these entities had been terminated,” said Werksmans attorneys in an e-mail to the Sunday Times; and
A lease agreement between the Waterfront and a company registered as 138081 trading as East Pier Beach Club, signed in December 2011, links Lifman’s Lifmar Trust and a former employee of Shimmy directly to what is now known as Shimmy.
Hennig denies that Lifman has links with Shimmy, although Lifman boasts on his website of his association with the upmarket club. This, despite Hennig claiming that he has instituted legal action to get Lifman to retract the link.
Lifman, a property mogul who allegedly owns more than 60 properties, including clothing stores, clubs and restaurants in Cape Town, has also had a long business association with Jerome “Donkey” Booysen, leader of the Sexy Boys gang.
Recently, the Sunday Times published a photograph of Lifman — sporting an ANC VIP tag — at President Jacob Zuma’s birthday rally in Athlone in the company of former deputy
Interviews with people close to Shimmy paint a different picture
minister and current provincial ANC leader Marius Fransman.
According to documents, Lifman and Shimmy’s former chef, Seelan Sundoo, signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2011, two days after signing the heads of agreement with the Waterfront.
The memorandum states that a shelf company — then called K2011138081 and trading as The East Pier Beach Club — was bought “with a view to establishing a beach bar and restaurant”.
Sundoo, on behalf of the company, signed a five-year lease agreement with the Waterfront’s chief executive, David Green, in December 2011.
According to the memorandum, Lifman’s trust would hold 49% of the shares in the company and Sundoo 51% and the company would “contract” with the Waterfront “for the establishment of a beach bar and restaurant”.
The Waterfront denies it ever signed a lease agreement involving Lifman, insisting it only signed one lease agreement with the club from December 2012 for seven-and-a-half years.
As proof, the V&A produced a letter dated May 13 2014, confirming “that the V&A have en- tered a lease agreement with Shimmy Beach Club for a period of 7.5 years from the commencement date of 10 December 2012”. But, according to Hennig, the construction of Shimmy started in August 2012 — five months before the lease date.
East Pier’s lease agreement required it to pay R500 000 towards “planning and development consents and approvals”.
Hennig conceded in a letter from his lawyer that Sundoo conceived the idea of Shimmy and that Lifman and Sundoo identified the site and applied for the lease.
However, Hennig’s trust declined to invest in the project “for a number of reasons, including that it did not wish to be associated with Lifman”.
But interviews with people close to Shimmy paint a different picture to the one presented by Hennig — sources say Lifman did indeed invest money in Shimmy “in the form of a loan that was paid back”.
“He [Lifman] made a cash loan . . . The lease from the Waterfront was in place to build and develop this funky beach restaurant . . . His loan was paid back. At the beginning, Lifman also provided security to Shimmy. It was no secret,” a source close to Shimmy said.
This person asked not to be named “fearing these guys”.
One of the unsolicited Werksmans e-mails to the Sunday Times said: “Shawn Mace, a well-known and experienced restaurateur . . . and Sundoo established a joint venture that Lifman was not involved in.”
This newspaper was unable to obtain this new company’s lease agreement with the Waterfront.
“The Waterfront was specifically told that Lifman was not involved in the new venture, which was a joint venture between Mace and Sundoo . . .
“On the basis that the barrier [Lifman’s involvement] was no longer an issue, Mace approached the Trust [Hennig’s] to invest in Shimmy. The trust agreed to invest in Shimmy,” said Hennig through Werksmans.
“Lifman has never held any shares, or claim for any shares, or had any stake whatsoever, in Shimmy,” said Hennig.
His lawyer said that the investment amount in Shimmy was “sensitive competitive in- formation”, adding that “the structure of the company is of no concern to you save that Mark Lifman is not involved at all.
“There are no proxy shareholders in Shimmy,” said the lawyer.