Durban -

An investment broker accused of stealing R1.5-million from a client claims he is a man of straw and there is no point in sequestrating his estate.

Sachin Lalla also claims he has moved out of the R30 000-a-month house he and his wife Priya rented on the Zimbali Estate on the North Coast – and from where they ran their brokerage business, SPG Fund Managers – and they now live in Chatsworth.

Their client, Mavendhrian Reddy, brought an application against them late last year and obtained a provisional sequestration order, now being opposed by the couple.

Reddy claimed in his application that Sachin Lalla had been “fobbing him off” for months when he tried to find out what had happened to the investments he had made through him on promises of returns of 20 and 30 percent.

In a document placed in the court file, the Financial Services Board has confirmed that neither SPG Fund Managers nor Sachin and Priya Lalla were registered as financial services providers.

Reddy alleges that Lalla – who once worked for him as a bookkeeper – still lived at Zimbali, owned another property and had antique furniture and an office full of expensive equipment.

Opposing the order’s being made final, Lalla put in a last-minute affidavit on Tuesday claiming this was not true.

He said he and his wife had moved out of the rented Zimbali house in November last year. The property had been let fully furnished and the antiques did not belong to them.

The office only had a laptop computer, desktop computer, and two iPads valued at about R20 000.

He said they owned a house in Verulam, which had a mortgage of R420 000, and which had been bought by Nedbank in a sale in execution last month for R375 000.

“This is the only immovable property in our estate. We still owe the bank R45 000, so this sequestration would definitely not be to the advantage of our creditors,” he said.

Lalla also claims that Reddy should be taking action against the company, and not him personally, because the money, if it was owed, was owed by the company.

“Reddy is using this application as a weapon to seek retribution for monies that were unfortunately lost when invested,” he said, claiming the application was based on untruths and that Reddy was aware of the risks involved in the investments.

He also claimed that the company and another he owned – Virtual Grocers – had both been deregistered.

The only way he could now earn a living was as a bookkeeper.

“If sequestrated I would not be able to keep any form of employment in the financial field.

“It is highly unlikely that any company would employ me as a bookkeeper,” he said.

He and his wife denied committing any fraudulent acts, he said.

The application was adjourned to enable Reddy to respond.

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The Mercury