File picture: Martin Welz, editor of Noseweek

Cape Town -

Claims by investigative magazine noseweek of kickbacks and money laundering in a deal between Independent Newspapers and Auction Alliance were denied on Thursday.

The auction house's attorney, Alan Smiedt said: “At no stage was any deal done nor did the settlement involve any secret deals or trump cards.”

Earlier, in the Cape Times, Independent editor-in-chief Chris Whitfield said a supposed deal made regarding the publication of information on auction kickbacks was “absolute scurrilous journalism” and “fevered imaginings made into print”.

The noseweek article claims the two companies made a hurried deal to ensure both companies' dirty laundry was not aired.

Smiedt said it was “indeed a pity” that the facts of the noseweek story were not checked before publication.

Had the author attempted to verify the facts, “he would have also seen that the suggestion of impropriety on my part is devoid of any truth”.

According to the noseweek article, Auction Alliance boss Rael Levitt had a “trump card” - information that newspaper bosses had negotiated a kickback of more than R1 million from him on the sale of two Cape Town buildings about a year ago.

It also alleged that the editorial team and lawyers had “evidence” of kickbacks paid to a prominent liquidator, and that Smiedt was involved in laundering the money.

Earlier this year, Independent Newspapers exposed a money-making racket involving bank officials, liquidators and attorneys paid by the auction company to push business its way.

Independent denied the latest allegations.

According to the report, Whitfield said noseweek had not attempted to check any facts with him. - Sapa