Various assets estimated at over R59 million were attached today following a restraint order granted by the High Court of South Africa: Gauteng Division, Johannesburg at the instance of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) with the assistance of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (also known as the Hawks) and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). The assets are located in various parts of the country, including Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, and North West. They consist of, among other things, vehicles, game farms and holiday homes.        
The assets mainly belong to the three accused in a Ponzi scheme matter, their associates and other individuals who appear to have benefited from the Ponzi scheme. The three accused, Kelvin Cholwich, Theunis Johannes Schoeman and Johan De Clerk, are currently facing various charges in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, ranging from fraud to contraventions of the Banks Act. The fourth mastermind of the scheme, the late Robert Paul Weimar, died in 2017, before the commencement of the trial.

Following various complaints from members of the public in 2015, the SARB commissioned an extensive investigation into the affairs of certain entities that appeared to be the chosen vehicles for running the Ponzi scheme. The SARB appointed Ernst & Young Advisory Services (Pty) Ltd to investigate as the SARB had reason to believe that the accused were illegally conducting “the business of a bank” contrary to the relevant provisions of the Banks Act.
The investigation revealed that over the period 2012 until 2016, all three accused and the late Weimar acted as the major role players in the scheme, chiefly using a company called FinCapital and related companies to commit the fraud. In short, the accused would, through television, newspapers and other means, approach members of the public (described as “licence partners” once they joined and invested) and inform them about passive income and/or investment opportunities in the entities linked to the Ponzi scheme. They allegedly enticed investors by offering them high and unrealistic monthly income/returns of between 25 – 45% on their investments.
Over R100 million was lost by members of the public who were allegedly duped to invest in the scheme. Most of the money was shared by the accused for personal enjoyment, private gain or advantage, and outside endeavours unrelated to the stated purpose of the purported business. All of which effectively served to launder the tainted funds. In the NDPP’s court papers, it is alleged that the accused benefited and the respondents and/or individuals linked to them consequently received affected gifts derived from the Ponzi scheme run by the accused from around 2012 to 2016 when the SARB intervened, followed by the investigation that was led by the Hawks, including private forensic investigators.  
Earlier today the restraint order was executed.

Various Sheriffs of the High Court, duly accompanied by representatives of the court-appointed curator bonis and officials from various regional offices of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority, attached all the assets in question, effectively putting them in the custody of the curator in line with the restraint order, pending the outcome of the ongoing criminal case.

The Head of the AFU, Adv Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba, welcomes the order which has been executed and acknowledges collaboration with the Hawks and the SARB to attain the same. In addition, she emphasises the importance of the NPA effectively dealing with cases of this nature through the implementation of the 2-pronged strategy of seizing assets and prosecuting criminals, thus ensuring that crime does not pay, and criminals are not allowed to hold on to their ill-gotten gains. The Head of the Hawks in Gauteng, Major-General Ebrahim Kadwa, similarly commended the excellent collaboration between all three state agencies, particularly highlighting the excellent work culminating in the restraint order.

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