Noluntu Bam

JOHANNESBURG - Pieter Taljaard filed eight complaints with the Fais Ombud in 2012 on the investments.

He claimed Johann and Marinda Makelaars and/or Johann Wilhelm Janse van Rensburg, based in Frankfort in the Free State, advised him to invest in the high-risk schemes that were incompatible with his personal circumstances as a pensioner.

But Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (Fais) Ombud Noluntu Bam said the case contained various contradictory statements and there were material disputes of fact.

Bam said she could establish from the records that Taljaard was advised that capital growth and income was not guaranteed on the property syndication investments.

She said Taljaard was “not a stranger to the investment arena” and it appeared he “had an appetite for risky investments because of the high returns he received”.

Bam said Van Rensburg also provided Taljaard with other investment options in November 2007 that provided capital guarantees when Propspec, PIC and Sharemax were not guaranteed, but Taljaard still elected to invest in Propspec and declined a needs analysis at the time.

“This begs the question as to whether the complainant (Taljaard) can successfully argue he was misled by the respondent (Van Rensburg) and that the products recommended to him were not commensurate with his circumstances,” she said.

Bam said she was compelled to refer the matter to court given the extent of material disputes of fact, the failure of Taljaard to deal with Van Rensburg’s statements that pointed to him acting on his own in respect of a number of investments.

“It is simply not possible to establish from these two versions what really happened between the two parties," she said.

Taljaard believed that as an investor he was misled by Van Rensburg, who gambled with his money and caused his losses when the investments collapsed.

He further claimed that had he been appropriately advised, he would not have invested in “the risky schemes of Sharemax and Propspec”, charging that Van Rensburg was “driven by the exorbitant commission he earned on the investments” in inducing Taljaard to make the investments.

About 40000 people invested about R4.5bn in the various schemes promoted and marketed by Sharemax.

Sharemax collapsed in 2010 after the registrar of banks found that its funding model contravened the Bank Act, leading to new investments drying up and its inability to make monthly payments to investors.

The registrar of banks laid criminal charges against Sharemax for alleged contraventions of the Banks Act in March 2012.

Bam said Taljaard did not exclusively use Van Rensburg’s services and consulted other representatives for certain investments.

Van Rensburg denied ever informing Taljaard that his investments were 100percent safe.

He said Taljaard had various high-risk investments, including an investment in Krion that he invested in without seeking his advice.

He further claimed that Taljaard reinvested in Sharemax on three occasions and in some instances without requesting his advice on the investments.

He claimed he was never aware of any legality issues around Sharemax until the Reserve Bank intervened.