Ex-African Bank boss’ firm puts R60m home on sale

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Leon Kirkinis1 Independent Newspapers. Former African Bank chief executive Leon Kirkinis. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - A luxury seaside property linked to Leon Kirkinis, founder and former chief executive officer of the collapsed African Bank Investments Ltd, is on sale in South Africa’s Western Cape for 60 million rand.

Kirkinis, 54, is an executive director of UPbeatprops 167 (Pty) Ltd, according to Johannesburg-based African Bank’s annual report.

In municipal documents the property company is listed as owning the house on Arctotis Road in Rooi Els, a village that looks across False Bay to Cape Town one hour away.

The beach home is described as having four en-suite bedrooms, a pool, jacuzzi, wine cellar, gym area, underfloor heating and automated timber shutters that open hydraulically to create verandas.

The property offers a “combination of luxury living in the heart of nature,” Acquire Africa, the estate agent selling the house, said on its website.

Acquire’s founder, Tara Whiting, declined to comment when contacted by phone yesterday, citing client confidentiality.

Abil, as the lender is known, failed last month after it forecast record losses and said it needed at least 8.5 billion rand to survive.

The central bank stepped in and appointed a curator to save Abil’s performing loans book.

Senior debt holders were told they would lose 10 cents in every rand of investment while subordinated debtholders, preference shareholders and ordinary shareholders may lose everything.

 

Calamari Lunch

 

Kirkinis, who stepped down as Abil’s chief executive officer on August 6, didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone or immediately respond to a voicemail message today.

UPbeatprops, registered at South Africa’s Companies and Intellectual Property Commission in February 1998, bought the Rooi Els property where the house now stands for 3.7 million rand that year, according to a report from the property24 website.

The lot is the biggest in the village at 1.47 hectares (3.6 acres), according to municipal documents for the Overstrand district.

The home was completed in 2011 by Elphick Proome Architects in Durban, according to the architects’ website.

The client was “a maverick businessman from Johannesburg” and the building was first sketched “on a paper napkin over a calamari lunch” in the seaside resort of Hermanus five years before completion, according to the architects.

It required the biggest steel galvanising undertaken in South Africa at the time, while the transport of large materials along small, windy seaside roads and dirt tracks “demanded special permits,” according to Elphick Proome.

 

Four Years

 

The house has a steel structure and took four years to build, according to Elphick Proome, which won the residential category in the 2013 Steel Awards for the Rooi Els home.

George Elphick, a founding partner of the firm of architects and part of the project team on the Rooi Els house, didn’t immediately respond to messages and his colleague Janeta Rockey declined to comment on the house.

Abil will be investigated for evidence of fraud, reckless lending and lack of disclosure, South Africa’s central bank said yesterday.

The investigation will take five months, with a written report due a month after that, the Pretoria-based South African Reserve Bank said.

The probe will seek to determine if “any business of African Bank was conducted recklessly, negligently or with the intent to defraud depositors,” the central bank said.

It will also probe any “questionable management practices or material non-disclosures, with the intent to defraud depositors.” - Bloomberg News



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