'He was the only one who could give us enough money to live on'
Down-and-out pensioners bleeding financially as their 'investment broker' is arrested for fraud
Kriel residents call it the “Jordaan charm”. He could charm the skin off a snake – until his investors started realising this charmer may have a deadly secret.
Now Jaco Jordaan, the alleged mastermind behind a Ponzi scheme that pocketed him an estimated R100-million, is behind bars, after being denied bail in the Secunda Magistrate’s Court last week.
“The guy had a crystal ball; every question you asked him, he had the answer in place,” said Derek Smit, one of about 100 people in the Mpumalanga town of Kriel who invested money with the former estate agent from Heidelberg.“He told us the money would be insured by Hollard, which never happened. He said it’s a big company and he’s the director.”
Another investor, Willie van Nierkerk, said: “If that guy talked to you and you had money, you would definitely have invested with him.”
Van Niekerk said he honestly believed Jordaan’s business was legitimate because one of his friends had invested money with him for eight years.“He was years with Jaco [Jordaan] and that’s what showed us it’s safe. Johnnie [friend] was eight years there and if you have Ponzi scheme, it won’t last that long.”
But it appears it did last that long. Many pensioners invested their life savings with the 51-year-old Jordaan.
Van Niekerk, who was a production foreman, said he was in a motorbike accident in 2015 and could no longer work.“When I got boarded I took the money and invested it. When I got my pension I took my lump sum and put it all there because we were making good money.”
He invested R1.5-million with Jordaan.In 2016, Paul Swart, 57, invested his pension of R750,000 with Jordaan after being declared medically unfit to work. He said Jordaan promised him monthly returns of 4.7%, meaning Swart and his late wife Hester could live comfortably while he ran a part-time butchery business.“I got a certain amount of money with a 4.7% return every month. It was R35,000 each month.”
Jordaan apparently told them he ran a company called Stocktrading Pty.
But in the middle of 2017 payments started to get later and by September it had stopped.Investors say Jordaan then told them some were not up to date with their tax returns and everybody had to send him a tax clearance certificate.
Swart said: “It sent everybody running around like fools here. Then he came with the excuse in December that he had an argument with one of the companies he invested in, BFS. So he withdrew all the money to invest into new guys.”
Investors say he told them BFS penalised him for making the withdrawal and it would take 90 days before the money would be paid out. But by the end of December, there was still no payment.“For the last seven months, I don’t wish it on anybody in life. This feels like a lifetime. I can’t work anymore. I’ve been boarded, I’ve got silicosis. Nobody will take me with my age and my type of sickness. I know mining. I was 35 years in the mining. I don’t know where to work or where to go looking,” said Swart.
Swart says he wife suffered a stroke and died last month.“My wife has passed away because we didn’t have a proper plan or medical care for her. We couldn’t put her in a private hospital. So we had to go to a state hospital. When I went to put her there, I came home and said to her daughter: ‘Your mother won’t come out there’.”
Jordaan was finally arrested for fraud in February.
Mpumalanga police spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said more charges may follow.
“It also surfaced through a preliminary probe instituted by the police that the suspect apparently also defrauded victims outside of Mpumalanga and is expected to face similar operandi accusations in other provinces as well.”Paulie Botha and her husband, Braam, invested with Jordaan in 2014 because “he was the only one who could give us enough money to live”.
She said: “Now there’s nothing. We don’t cope. The kids are helping, my mom is helping. We are waiting to hear from the bank about if they are going to freeze our home loan.”
Braam, a cancer survivor, is now without medical aid and cannot afford doctors’ appointments.Swart said: “I feel for everybody that lost money. The old people who worked for 40 years for their money and this guy comes and he takes it.”
Jordaan has been denied bail and will appear in court again on April 13.