Cape Town - The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has appointed a curator to take control of the assets of swimwear model Candice-Jean van der Merwe, including bank accounts which contain portions of a $15 million (about R188 million) gift she claimed to have received from an Arab admirer she met at a Seychelles resort for the uber-wealthy.
As a result of the court’s order, Van der Merwe has to provide an account of her assets to the curator, Cloete Murray of Sechaba Trust Business Rescue and Insolvency Practitioners, and divulge how she acquired them.
Murray is the only person authorised to have any dealings with the assets, the court ruled.
Van der Merwe is the daughter of businessman Gary van der Merwe, who is best known for running the Huey Extreme Club which offered joyrides in a Vietnam-era Bell UH-1 chopper.
The South African Revenue Service (Sars), which targeted the model in court, has claimed that her father has dodged the taxman for years. Sars argued that she was being used as a conduit, and that she could not have sustained her luxurious lifestyle with the money she earned.
But Van der Merwe countered that she does not in fact fund her lifestyle.
According to her, Lady Luck smiled on her in May 2013 when she received a generous $15.3m gift from an Arab man, identified as Muhamad Muhamad Nazih Rawas, who she met at the private Plantation Club resort on Mahé Island, while working in the Seychelles.
“This type of resort is the playground of the super wealthy where they can relax in total privacy away from the intrusions that normally accompany their lifestyles, such as paparazzi and constant security threats due to their extreme wealth and status. Privacy and more importantly security is paramount to these persons. For this reason only people who have been vetted and security checked are allowed at the resort. It often poses a security risk should it be public knowledge that a high-profile individual is at a specific location.
“It is the norm for lavish parties and events to be held at the resort. Such parties and events will often feature celebrity entertainers or disc jockeys with international acclaim.
“Models from only the trusted agencies are routinely flown in from all over the world to lend a sense of glamour and exclusivity to these events and, by definition, the resort,” she explained in an affidavit.
She said Rawas paid her the money after she saw a property in Fresnaye which she liked, and which was on sale for R110m.
With the help of her father, she bought the property.
Van der Merwe also told the court she got her Audi R8 Spyder and Range Rover Evoque vehicles, valued at more than R2.5m, as gifts after she wrote off her car in an accident.
In addition to these, an iPhone 5 and Z10 Blackberry were sent to her, fully paid for. One had been activated with international roaming.
In February last year, the Western Cape High Court confirmed a provisional preservation order Sars had obtained against the model.
Van der Merwe wanted to appeal the order to the SCA, but did not take the necessary steps within the prescribed time period.
As a result, she applied for condonation.
At the same time, Sars cross-appealed on the basis of the High Court’s failure to appoint a curator.
In a judgment handed down a week ago, the SCA commented that Van der Merwe’s father had a strong presence in her affairs.
“At the very least,” she allowed him to use her bank accounts, “or cannot prevent him from doing so.”
The court found that Van der Merwe and her father’s close relationship, coupled with the “extraordinary wealth” she suddenly acquired, required investigation.
“It thus seems imperative that a curator investigate how and on what basis those funds were effectively placed at the disposal of (her father), and whether and how he has disposed of the funds,” the court found.