Elusive Mohamed and the mountain of evidence on how he conned Absa
Lawyer with fake qualifications allegedly defrauded Absa of R17-million and bribed high court staff to steal files
A probe into a lawyer who was not a lawyer faces the daunting task of bringing a mountain of evidence to Mohamed. It cannot bring Mohamed to the mountain because the alleged fraudster has vanished.
Evidence against the man known by three names (Patel Muhamed, Mohamed Ismail and Muhamed Ismail Patel) shows he allegedly defrauded Absa of about R17-million, faked his legal qualification, and is said to have bribed staff at the office of the Master of the High Court to steal files.
Patel, who is thought to be overseas, lost his robes last year after falling foul of the Cape Law Society when it found out he had lied about having a BProc qualification.
Now the Cape Town High Court has granted liquidators of two insolvent companies, Natserve and Pluscor – which own 28 sectional units in what used to be the Hawthorndene Hotel in George – an order to hold a public inquiry into the companies’ affairs.Liquidators Nandipha Vinqi and Duane Starky were appointed after the Master of the High Court removed Patel as a trustee of the companies following complaints of serious misconduct.
On Thursday the inquiry heard claims that Patel bribed a messenger at the Master’s office to remove case files. Patronella Stofberg, who was Patel’s administrator, told the hearing he also hid bank statements.
“I did see there was a problem as I couldn’t do the job properly, with accounts especially, and I did ask him numerous times: ‘Mr Patel I want to see the bank statements’,” said Stofberg. “Sometimes I got the ones for contributions and that is about it. [The Master] asked for the bank statements. I would [follow up on that] but [Patel] never assisted me to give it to them. They asked numerous times for the bank statements.”
The inquiry, at the offices of law firm ENS Africa, will determine what happened to rental payments handed to Patel by tenants, and probe the Master’s office.According to papers filed at the inquiry, Patel used a fake letter purported to be from the Master’s office authorising the sale of properties owned by the insolvent companies. But the assistant Master overseeing the winding up of one of the companies denied writing the letter.
“I would never have granted blanket authority to sell the immovable property as liquidators are required to indicate whether they elect to sell by public auction or private treaty,” Candice Perumalsami wrote.
“It is strange that I have never seen the document despite having perused the file on many occasions. I point out that the Master’s file in respect of Natserve has disappeared on two separate occasions.”
Patel was sequestrated last year in an application brought by Sivalutchmee Moodliar, a trustee of the insolvent estate of the Coe Family Trust. Absa’s proven claim on the estate was more than R17-million. Moodliar accused Patel of misappropriating R9.3-million from the insolvent estate and stealing R8.7-million form the estate’s bank account.
Patel’s two properties in Club Mykonos, Langebaan, and his home in Rylands, as well furniture were seized. So was his Jaguar and a boat in Hout Bay harbour.