AfriForum to challenge NPA’s decision not to seize assets in Sharemax scandal

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit is preparing to take the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision not to obtain a preservation order against the assets of the Nova Property Group (previously Sharemax) on review. The NPA regularly acts against similar investment schemes on behalf of investors, but inexplicably has opted not to act in this decades-long scandal.

In a letter to Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), Adv. Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba, AfriForum requested the legal opinion upon which the decision was made. The Private Prosecution Unit told Rabaji-Rasethaba that it wants to study the legal opinion first to ensure that all channels have been exhausted before approaching the court.

“The AFU’s decision not to obtain an order to preserve the assets of the Nova Company is, in our opinion, irrational and to the further detriment of the victims who have suffered enormous financial losses due to the Sharemax debacle. The NPA is basing their decision not to act on a report that was drafted by a senior counsel. We want to see this report because the NPA – after more than a decade – has not only failed to prosecute, but there has also not been repayment of the initial investment or dividends to the investors,” says Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.

AfriForum is of the opinion that the assets in question were acquired with the proceeds of crime. The Unit’s insistence on the obtainment of a preservation of property order is further highlighted by the fact that the board of directors of Nova on 20 January (the debenture repayment deadline) declined to redeem any debentures. One of the direct consequences of a preservation order is that no trading of properties is allowed until the court has granted a final order that it may be sold or returned to its rightful owners.

“The Private Prosecution Unit even drafted the application for the preservation of property order and provided it to the AFU. We did this as long ago as June 2020, but after almost two years there has been no progress in the matter, despite the fact that we are aware that the NPA regularly act against similar investment schemes on behalf of investors. We have implored the NPA on more than one occasion to simply do their duty, but their continued refusal to act, could force us to bring a review application,” Nel concludes.

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