|Pensioners, widows lose millions to Potgieter|
|Thursday, 19 March 2009 13:00|
SHOCKING revelations have emerged about how deceased tycoon Riaan Potgieter siphoned millions of dollars from the lifetime investment portfolios of elderly pensioners and widows through the now defunct investment firm Prowealth Asset Managers, which he ran until his death in December 2008.
Among Potgieter’s victims are former politician Hans-Erik Staby and his relative Erika Staby and a prominent retired news editor, Dr. Carol Kotze. |
Potgieter committed suicide in Windhoek last December after he took money from several pensioners and property developers.
Aldridge Hugo and Calitz Jurie lost N$1.2 million and N$626,885,13 respectively to Potgieter while another pensioner, Johannes Stephanus Frederick lost more than N$180,000 that was meant for an investment portfolio, but ended up in other business products.
Another victim, Peter Vermeulen, a Swakopmund pensioner lost close to N$2 million after he made a verbal agreement with Potgieter that his money would be invested in an investment portfolio with Sanlam, but Potgieter opted to divert the funds elsewhere.
Cape Town based Jacque Weibach loaned N$500,000 to Potgieter to invest in a new hotel project in Swakopmund. Potgieter ceded one of his policies as security for the loan. He faces the risk of loosing the money as it has been divested in other projects.
“I am a widow and a pensioner. I gave him a substantial amount of money from my retirement funds and the next thing I heard he has killed himself.
“I told him that this is my retirement money and I do not want to loose it,” said Dr. Kotze.
“I invested my money through Riaan Potgieter and now it’s gone,” said Vermeulen.
“It doesn’t help to cry, scream…I am just grateful I don’t have debt, and am still working in the building industry. Obviously when I stop that will become a problem, because this was my retirement money, which I would have started drawing from when I was ready.
“All I know is what I read in the papers, and that the matter is in the hands of the liquidators, so we must just wait and see what comes of it. It is a huge disappointment.”
“I have nothing to discuss it is a personal matter and very sensitive right now, so the less said the better,” said Jurie Kalitz.
Several investors of the now defunct Prowealth Asset Managers have sought legal means to recover the millions of dollars they had invested with the company, barely two months after the owner killed himself.
Prowealth made substantial losses, with the latest audit results revealing that the company’s liabilities have exceeded its clients’ assets with over N$19 million.
Soon after Potgieter’s death, concerned clients reported their concern to the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa), which consequently initiated an investigation based on their claims.
Legal consultations tightened recently, however, after lawyer Soleil Prollius, who has been appointed as executor of Potgieter’s estate, revealed that “substantial amounts of monies” invested with the company are not “traceable”.
In her affidavits filed with the High Court, Prollius said, “In some instances, I have been unable to trace monies invested for and on behalf of certain clients.”
Prowealth Group Holdings, a local company that bought a major stake in Prowealth Asset Managers several months ago, has also instituted legal action against its subsidiary, saying the loss-making outfit owes it over N$16.2 million in assets invested with it.
Prollius has confirmed in the court affidavits that several creditors are in the process of instituting proceedings against Prowealth Asset Managers, claiming payments due to them.
The whereabouts of Potgieter’s monetary estate is not known and a liquidator could be appointed to verify claims by creditors and to trace where the funds are.
“To the best of my knowledge and belief, not all funds invested by the respondent (Prowealth Asset Managers) have been found…,” said Prollius.