Fight rages on over flogging of a horse that is now dead
Owner has already nailed one man, but vows to go after all those party to a racehorse 'scam'
A racehorse owner is relentlessly demanding justice for what he insists is a litany of dodgy dealings by a former trainer and a co-owner.
Paulie Karam has already forced Corne Spies to relinquish his trainer’s licence for breaching one National Horseracing Authority (NHRA) rule, and had him fined R15,000 for breaking another – and he says that’s not enough.
Karam, who bought a 25% share in the Spies-trained Tribal Force in September 2016, accuses the ex-trainer of fraud, lying and cheating.
But Spies has countered that Karam is the one being dishonest, adding that he has been harassed and defamed on social media.
“The last two years have been hell,” said Spies, adding that he now works as a groom and administrator in the yard he used to run.
But an unrepentant Karam warned: “It’s going to get worse. I’m not going to stop until every individual who has been party to the scam has been brought to book.”
Karam told Times Select his experience as part owner of the horse – his first venture into the sport – had been fraught with deception from the start. His allegations included that:
• He and Fito Englezakis, one of the two original co-owners, along with Spies’s father Tobie, had agreed he would pay R40,000 for his share, but was instead billed R49,400;
• Spies charged double VAT by adding VAT onto the costs of third-party invoices that already contained VAT;
• Spies deleted Karam’s banking account details on the ownership registration form and replaced them with his stable’s banking details; and
• Spies was actually acting illegally as a trainer because he had been an unrehabilitated insolvent since late 2011.
Spies had to relinquish his licence in April this year because of the insolvency, saying he had flagged the matter at the time and NHRA officials he said no longer worked there had allowed him to continue. He added he was in the process of being rehabilitated.
Eyebrows were raised at the speed with which Spies’s father was given a trainer’s licence after his son had relinquished his.
Spies however said they had been “fortunate” that the NHRA board sat on the day his father, a long-time trainer in the past, reapplied for his licence. He said it took a couple of weeks to do the paperwork at a cost of about R30,000. “If my dad had not been able to take over I would have lost the business.”
Spies was fined by the NHRA for the bank account details being changed, saying it was done by “a lady in the office” because stakes money in partnerships had to paid into a single account.
“How did I defraud Mr Karam? I credited his account with his share of the winnings.”
He said SA Revenue Service officials had approved his method of charging VAT, and pointed out that Karam had paid the full price for Tribal Force at the time and contested it only six months later.
Englezakis said the agreed price with Karam was R49,400, and he backed Spies’s way of costing on accounts.
Spies said Englezakis and his father eventually bought Karam out of his share in Tribal Force for R25,000, but Karam then refused to sign the change of ownership form, so the horse was sold on auction.
Karam insisted the money was compensation for the five months of training and stabling costs he’d paid before he’d been registered as an owner.
Spies said ownership started at payment for the horse, not registration with the NHRA.
Karam bought Tribal Force outright for R22,000 at the auction in November 2017 and had him moved to a new trainer, but there was no happy ending. The horse was injured in a freak accident in January and had to be euthanised.