Pretoria - A liquidator has been appointed in the case against David Scott Laughland and his company Agri Smart Investments (ASI), who allegedly conned investors out of millions in investment in a chicken farm that seemingly did not exist.
The managing director of ASI and his business associates are facing legal action after allegedly conning people out of their money and then closed shop.
Laughland is one of a pair who rented Oscar Pistorius’s former house (in which the Paralympian killed Reeva Steenkamp) and was later recorded saying they would hold parties there.
There was a backlash after the video surfaced online, but Laughland told the Pretoria News that it was simply a publicity stunt to market ASI.
The company also advertised extensively in the Pretoria News.
According to the attorney handling the case, Chris van Niekerk, a liquidator was appointed and had attached and removed all office assets as well as furniture. “We also seized the contents of his brother’s house and vehicles,” Van Niekerk said.
The lawyer from Steenkamp Attorneys in Centurion said they attached Laughland’s assets, but did not want to remove them yet because they were aware he was renting his property. They did not want to take assets that were not his.
“We have attached assets at his shops in Garsfontein. The two cold-room containers were also delivered and they belong to ASI. We have frozen two bank accounts as well, one of them empty,” Van Niekerk said.
He explained that with the help of FNB, they were able to find out that one of the accounts received R86 million from investors in the past year. The whole amount was transferred to other bank accounts.
Van Niekerk said their plan was to have a liquidation interrogation - a mini trial - where the liquidator would subpoena major roleplayers who got the funds from the frozen bank accounts. “If they don’t pay back the money, they will be sequestrated.”
The money that has been received from the assets already seized would not be enough to cover the debt owed. However, he said the money from the people who received payments from the frozen bank accounts would form the bulk of the money owed.
Van Niekerk is representing 110 people who claim to have been defrauded of millions in a chicken farm syndicate. He likened ASI to a Ponzi scheme.
Some people invested their money in the company either in R25 000, R250 000 or R2.5m increments.
They were to get a payout each month based on how much they invested. Some received their money in the beginning, while others never got a cent.
Van Niekerk said that early next week they would approach the high court to speed up the process for the liquidator to be able to sell the seized assets.
“The problem is that the liquidator does not have the powers to sell, so we want to approach the court with an ex parte application,” Van Niekerk said.