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Auction Alliance properties raided

The anti-corruption task team is currently underway with a nationwide search and seizure operation comprising 13 properties owned by embattled Auction Alliance (AA).

According to its spokesperson, McIntosh Polela, the simultaneous raids began late Tuesday morning and were still ongoing by the time of writing.

“We are doing an investigation into allegations of kickbacks and corruption, it stems from the much reported allegations that started with the auction in the Western Cape,” said Polela.
AA’s attorneys, Smiedt and Associates have suggested that on a “prima-facie
basis the warrants have been issued unlawfully and unconstitutionally and in fragrant violation of our client’s rights.

“In the circumstances we are considering the various remedies available to our clients and will put the necessary action in place”.

Ian Small Smith, from BDK attorneys, who has been advising AA on the “criminal side of the investigation” since a criminal complaint was lodged with the police told Moneyweb the “warrants appear to be very broad and that I would be surprised if they stand”.

The auction Polela is referring to is that of the liquidated Quoin Rock Estate which led to Wendy Appelbaum’s complaint, filed with the National Consumer Commission (NCC), in which AA was accused of inflating the wine estate’s bid price through bid rigging.

Although the NCC seems to have foiled its investigation by imposing “defective” compliance notices on the AA and the liquidators by failing to follow due process in its investigation of AA’s former CEO, Rael Levitt, Levitt has subsequently admitted that AA has breached sections of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) during its auctions.

Said Polela the task team’s investigation is taking place independently of the NCC “we took up the investigation ourselves, we didn’t need anybody to refer it to us”.

The Anti-Corruption Task Team is “basically a super agency which involves the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and Sars”.

“If any of these entities feel there is an investigation to be conducted, it usually starts with the SIU, then we all gang up together.”

The investigation is still in its “early stages” says Polela, and thus far has not included Levitt.

However, according to Smith, a criminal complaint has been filed “the police have confirmed that a criminal complaint has been lodged although they have not told us who filed it”, he said.

Smith was able to confirm that it was not the NCC who filed the complaint.

(Moneyweb)


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