Singh’s firm pockets millions each month

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Copy of ND Jay Singh

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Jay Singh

Durban - Durban businessman Jay Singh’s company Woodglaze Trading is still pocketing R3 million a month in rentals from Phoenix housing complexes, in defiance of a high court order.

Four complexes, which Singh developed, were placed under curatorship last month after the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) obtained a court order in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The order also required rentals, which were being paid to Woodglaze, to go to curator Eugene Nel.

The AFU alleged the complexes were owned by First Metro, but they had been hastily transferred - illegally - to the entity by Woodglaze due to its legal difficulties.

First Metro claimed the transfer was done without its consent and it had not signed transfer documents.

The Asset Forfeiture Unit also seized R102m that First Metro received from social housing funding to maintain the Phoenix housing project.

The forfeiture action came after investigations into allegations of misconduct in the Social Housing Regulatory Authority, an entity set up by the Human Settlements Ministry.

The investigation related to R235m in housing grants paid to Moko Rental Housing, a section 21 company allegedly set up by Woodglaze, for Phoenix social housing development projects.

The AFU alleged that Woodglaze and Moko did not qualify for the grants and “misrepresentations” were made before the money was paid.

Woodglaze brought a separate application, which is in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday, asking the court to reconsider the court order. The company said the transfer to First Metro had never gone through and it was the rightful landlord and entitled to receive the rentals.

Woodglaze denied it was involved in any fraudulent activity and said the forfeiture application was an abuse of the court process.

In response to Singh’s application, the AFU’s Knorx Molelle said in court papers that the curator had informed the forfeiture unit that most rentals, which were paid by debit order, were still being paid to Singh’s company.

“The debit orders are still operating in favour of the first respondent (Woodglaze) and, if true, this should have been disclosed to the court by the company.”

He also said Woodglaze was trying to make an “unlawful attempt” to obtain the rentals when its status as a landlord was in dispute in court applications brought by the Phoenix Residents and Tenants Association.

The association argues that the company failed to properly administer “rent to buy” schemes.

Molelle said having the rentals collected by the curator was the “safest way” to deal with the funds until the forfeiture application and other applications were dealt with.

He also said other rentals had not been received due to some of the properties being incorrectly described in the court order.

On Wednesday, the association’s attorney, Ramesh Luckychund, said he had written a letter to the AFU, Singh’s attorneys and the curator stating that it wished to intervene in the application.

The association’s Mervin Govender said the residents would be present at court on Thursday.

kamini.padayachee@inl.co.za

The Mercury


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