The story Hen­nig and part­ners don’t want you to read

Sunday Times - - NEWS - PEAR­LIE JOU­BERT

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.

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