Cape Town - A new controversy has hit embattled contractor Filcon Projects – allegedly responsible for what has been dubbed “the biggest housing scandal to hit the Western Cape” – with the emergence of a list of 10 separate liquidation applications against the company dating back to 2010.
The status of these liquidation applications could not be independently verified by Weekend Argus yesterday.
This follows Weekend Argus’s revelations last weekend that government projects in the province to the value of almost R400 million had either beeen cancelled, halted or left in jeopardy after Filcon was forced to file for business rescue.
Now the new list has raised further questions.
Cameron Dugmore, the ANC’s number three candidate on the provincial list and a former MEC, yesterday slammed the provincial government for having suggested that the Filcon debacle was a case of a “reputable company experiencing cash flow problems”. The new evidence of a much deeper problem was “deeply worrying”, he said.
The list, Dugmore charged, pointed to a lack of due diligence on the part of the provincial government and the City of Cape Town.
“We now have evidence of no less than 10 High Court liquidation applications against Filcon dating back to 2010. Filcon was contracted in 2012 and 2013. Surely the province and the city knew this?”
“It is inconceivable that the due diligence process the city and province claims to have followed would not have revealed this.”
Yesterday the Weekend Argus reported that the city authorities had hit back at ANC allegations of corruption over the Filcon contracts, claiming there were no irregularities in the awarding of the contracts, and saying they welcomed any investigation.
MEC for Transport and Public Works Robin Carlisle has previously said the “reputable contractor” Filcon had been awarded the contracts after all necessary checks required by law were conducted.
Asked to comment late yesterday on the list of liquidation applications, he said he was not aware of these.
He suggested they could not have been successful as the company was still operating.
“I would say to Cameron Dugmore that we should get the public protector and draw attention of the auditor general to this… We should open it right up so we can see everything… and we can assist him,” Carlisle said.
The cases on the list all involve CF Projects Cape (Pty) Ltd, trading as Filcon Projects, and carry Western Cape High Court case numbers.
The companies that sought Filcon’s liquidation include
Highland Paving and Construction CC t/a Highland Paving,
Albert Carpets (Pty) Ltd,
Cape Airconditioning & Ventilation CC,
Merchant Commercial Finance (Pty) Ltd t/a Merchant Factors,
JFE Group Empowerment (Pty) Ltd t/a JFE Industries,
Metropolis Construction and Site Managing Consultants CC t/a Metro Contracting,
Citrine Construction (Pty) Ltd, Plumblink SA (Pty) Ltd and Topfloor Concrete Ltd.
After the Weekend Argus firstexposed Filcon’s application for business rescue last weekend, ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman called the debacle the biggest housing scandal to hit the Western Cape, saying it was bigger than Nkandla.
The business rescue application leaves 12 development contracts to the value of almost R400m in limbo, and subcontractors claim to be on the verge of bankruptcy as a result. Affected projects include housing and schools in the province.
Asked to comment on the liquidation claims yesterday, Filcon chairman Saul Loggenberg, banned in Britain from being a company director until 2024 by the British Insolvency Service, claimed he was not even involved in the company in 2010.
He claimed further that all applications brought against the company were settled in 2012 and last year, when he took up an executive position.
Loggenberg said he was aware of only three applications after 2011, the most significant brought by Filipo Cinti. He said a judge had ruled against Cinti, with a costs order. He said Cinti’s company now traded as Modelo Construction.
He labelled three other applications brought against Filcon “vexatious”, and said one amounted to “extortion”. He added that one company had approached Filcon willing to accept a third of what they had sued for in order to make the case “go away”.
Loggenberg said he was confident that when the outstanding cases went to trial, Filcon would be awarded damages.
He said he was a minority shareholder in Filcon, yet had borne the brunt of allegations against it.
He was in fact owed R51m by the city, he claimed.