Failed gem firm pays a pittance

[] — Investors who ploughed more than R100m into marine diamond firm Wealth 4 U (W4U), which promised high returns and a London listing, are unlikely to get more than 1c back for every R1 despite efforts by founder Louis Liebenberg to retrieve the venture from liquidation.

Liebenberg recently launched an ambitious and intricate plan to raise additional money from investors in a last ditch attempt to recover losses investors suffered as a result of the firm’s liquidation.

However, it would seem new funds raised would be better served helping the liquidators discover where the initial R100m in seed capital, raised from some 1600 investors, went.

Liebenberg has raised another R40 000 from 115 investors for a “final rescue” plan.

Gert de Wet, the joint provisional liquidator from KaapVaal Trust, said the assets W4U initially bought for R20m to R30m, to extract marine diamonds along the Port Nolloth coast, were sold for only R2.2m at a liquidation auction.

They were apparently bought by a woman, one of Liebenberg’s friends.

According to De Wet there were only two vessels that were still serviceable and they were sold for R800000, instead of the expected R4m.

The remaining goods consist of wheels, steering wheels and boats with hulls falling through. After the auctioneer’s fees have been paid, R1.7m remains. Almost R1m of this has to be paid to preferential creditors (mainly employees).

The liquidators are also unable to find any evidence that W4U ever paid for concessions over the area where it was supposed to mine the diamonds.

The liquidators know that large amounts of money were shuffled around, but they do not have the money to investigate this, and there is little hope that the estate will realise anything to pay for such inquiries.

Corrie Cloete, W4U’s auditor in Paris, refused to make financial reports available to the liquidators before W4U pays the outstanding R400000 for them.

The legal teams who, on behalf of the liquidators, interrogated the creditors, administrative officials and auditors, already have a R300000 claim against the liquidated W4U.

– Sake24