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Johannesburg - Julius Malema’s efforts to hide his assets from the South African Revenue Service have been blocked – and the taxman is now pulling out all the stops to ensure that the expelled ANC Youth League leader walks away with nothing. The once powerful leader now also faces the prospect of charges of contempt of court for allegedly hiding his assets to avoid the sheriff of the court from auctioning them to pay his tax bill, which is in excess of R16 million.
Last week, just over a month after Sars asked the Pretoria High Court to place Malema under sequestration, the revenue service – according to papers filed in court – has returned for a preservation order of Malema’s assets.
And they have also asked the court to place him under curatorship.
Cloete Murray of Sechaba Trust and Aviwe Ndyamara of the Tshwane Trust Co were appointed as joint curators to deal with all Malema’s assets.
Ndyamara confirmed that he had been appointed as joint curator but referred all further questions to the revenue service.
The application was held in chambers. Malema has until April 16 to make a presentation as to why the order should not be made final.
Malema did not respond to calls or SMSes.
His lawyer Tumi Mokwena said he had not been served with the order but that the sheriff had made contact with them this week to serve papers.
“That will probably be done on Monday (tomorrow),” said Mokwena.
In January, the assets at Malema’s Polokwane home in Florapark and Sandown home were attached to settle his tax bill.
Last month the Florapark home assets were auctioned off for R54 810.
But according to the application in court last week, when the sheriff attempted to remove the assets from his Florapark home, some of these assets could no longer be found.
Attached to an affidavit from Sars investigator Pieter Engelbrecht, were two asset registers. The first was taken when Malema’s possessions were attached and the second one taken when the possessions were removed from the home.
In his affidavit, Engelbrecht said: “From a comparison between the assets identified… it emerges that various items were removed from the premises subsequent to them being attached, most probably by the respondent or at the respondent’s behest.”
Some of bidders were not happy with the quality of Malema’s auctioned assets last month.
A list of the attached assets which were no longer available at Malema’s Florapark home has also been compiled.
The items attached and removed from the Sandown house which he was renting, including his black Mercedes Viano CDI30, will only be auctioned later this month.
But Engelbrecht said that in the meantime the revenue service wanted to preserve Malema’s assets and to appoint a curator to take control of them.
“Sars regards the respondent’s actions to remove… assets falling under attachment as a dissipation or an attempt by him to hide assets to the detriment of his creditors,” said Engelbrecht.
According to the court, Murray and Ndyamara will interview Malema, who will be “obliged to furnish” them with full particulars of all his assets and how these assets were acquired.
“Should the curator not be satisfied that he had received full and truthful information from the respondent… the curator bonis may apply to the mediator to arrange for the respondent to testify on oath about such assets,” state the court papers.
The curators are allowed to sell, auction or dispose of the assets.
The money must be placed in an interest-bearing account until the outcome of the sequestration.
When Malema’s estate is sequestrated, the money must be paid to the trustees. If the estate is not sequestrated, the proceeds should be paid to his outstanding tax bill.
Steven Powell, director of forensics at Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, said that the preservation order was an “anti-dissipation order” which takes control out of Malema’s hands.
“His bank accounts are frozen and all properties are restrained. It stops him from alienating anything. The order takes away his signing power. He has no capacity to get rid of any items,” said Powell. The only thing that was at risk, said Powell, was hard cash or jewellery that the curators were not aware of. Powell said that Malema could also potentially face contempt of court charges for disregarding the court.
Powell said that Malema could, however, still win the sequestration. He has opposed it and his lawyers have until the middle of this month to file affidavits in the matter. “That’s why they place the assets in the hands of an independent individual until the court has made the decision. They are doing everything in their power to make sure he is not secretly ferrying off and hiding things,” said Powell, adding that the revenue service would monitor Malema’s behaviour after the application.
In their court papers Sars contends that the sequestration application does not prohibit Sars from launching the application for curatorship.
“This application will not only effectively stop any further attempts by the respondent to dissipate or hide assets to the detriments of the general body of creditors, but will in actual fact be beneficial to Sars as creditor and to the general body of creditors as a whole, in that it serves to preserve the respondent’s assets and to realise same to the fullest value.”
“The respondent’s assets need to be safeguarded and converted to cash and the other orders provided for in the notice of motion, whatever the outcome of the sequestration application may be, as this is required to secure tax collection,” Engelbrecht said.
In proving the case for the preservation order to be granted, Engelbrecht states that it is not the first time that Malema has dissipated his assets.
According to the affidavit, Malema had provided various versions of his current assets and liabilities. Malema initially valued his assets at R8.5m. They were later reduced to R5.6m
and later dropped to R1.4m.
With regard to his homes, Malema valued his Florapark home at R1m. This was later changed to R1.5m but then reduced to R1m.
His Sandton property was initially valued at R7.1m has subsequently been reduced to R3.6m. “Sars confirmed that this property was purchased for an amount of R3.6m… (but that) a further amount
of R5.8m was paid to the building contractor in respect of the building works on the said premises,” Engelbrecht said.
Engelbrecht also referred to the Schuilkraal Farm in Limpopo, which was purchased by Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust.
According to his statement, a deed of sale was entered into with the trust and large amounts of money were deposited into the transferring attorney’s account. At the la st moment the deed of sale was cancelled by the trust and a new deed of sale was entered into by Gwama Properties.
Malema’s confidante, business partner and funder Lesiba Gwangwa is a director of both Gwama Properties and Guilder Investments.
The Ratanang Trust and the Gwangwa Family Trust are the 50/50 shareholders of Guilder.
Guilder Investments is a shareholder of Gwama. Engelbrecht said Malema had consented that the money deposited to the transferring attorneys trust account could be used to buy the farm on behalf of
Gwama, which Sars regarded as a dissipation of assets.
Sars has asked the court to appoint a mediator. Retired Judge Meyer Joffe will take up the position.
Joffe will deal with complaints about how the order was implemented and Murray and Ndyamara can also approach him to make a ruling on the execution of the order.
Malema’s curatorship comes after the revenue service asked the court to place Gwangwa under curatorship – taking control of his seven businesses, 16 properties across the
country and vehicles.
Sars said it was “inapropriate to make public statements on the matter” until the sequestration case is resolved.