select
|

R1m 'wasted' over Auction Alliance

The National Consumer Commission, established to protect consumers, has run up a R1-million legal bill in its failed efforts to get to the bottom of allegations around the controversial auction house Auction Alliance - money that will ultimately be paid from consumers' taxes.

That's according to Auction Alliance attorney Alan Smiedt, who said the company was owed more than R1m in legal fees by the beleaguered commission. And that sum would have been higher if Auction Alliance had persisted with its court application against the commission - wanting to have a summons that was issued to former company chief executive Rael Levitt reviewed and set aside.

The application, which was filed in the Western Cape High Court in August, related to another summons the commission had issued - for Levitt to appear in order to answer allegations relating to the sale of two properties - a plush residence in Hyde Park in Joburg, and the farm Doornkraal, in Pretoria.

The properties were sold last year, before the Quoin Rock wine estate auction and the fake bidding which blew the lid off the Auction Alliance practice.

The summons was issued in July, with Levitt asked to appear before the commission on August 16. However, shortly before that, Levitt and Auction Alliance approached the court to ask that the summons be set aside.

They argued that it was the product of an investigation which was "irregularly and unconstitutionally" initiated.

In addition, Levitt claimed there were defects with the summons, including the fact that it cited a section of the Consumer Protection Act which did not exist. He also attached a controversial secret report compiled by the National Consumer Tribunal, in which it lambasted the commission's handling of investigations into consumer complaints.

Smiedt wrote to the commission and its then-commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi to query not only that summons, but also summonses issued in respect of two other complaints against the company before the commission.

When he received no response, he took the legal route.

Eventually, days before the case was scheduled to be heard, Auction Alliance withdrew the application.

Smiedt told Weekend Argus this week the application was withdrawn after the commission agreed to drop the summonses if "we don't ask for a cost order against them".

This meant the commission could issue new summonses, but he said he doubted it would do so.

Smiedt also confirmed that the Hawks were still investigating the Quoin Rock scandal.
Asked to comment, the acting consumer commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed confirmed this did not mean other summonses could not be issued. The commission was assessing all cases to decide the best way forward.

Mohamed added that it would be premature to say whether another summons would be issued.

(Weekend Argus - Sunday Edition)


  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
  
2000
Characters remaining


    Latest Property News
    • 20 Nov 2017
      Since 2012, sectional title complexes have been leading the South African property market, not only in terms of price growth, but sales volumes as well. Remaining relatively strong, even in the face of 2017’s political and economic turmoil, experts say this market segment could offer valuable insight into South Africans’ property purchase priorities.
    • 20 Nov 2017
      Regardless of whether you are purchasing your first start-up home, downsizing or moving in with roommates, finding ways to maximise small spaces can be a big advantage, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
    • 20 Nov 2017
      Property valued at approximately R1 billion is on High Street Auctions’ sales floor during the month of November, including the much-anticipated sale of the Tshwane Mayoral Residence and the land occupied by one of South Africa’s oldest operating gold mines.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      FWJK has announced the launch of its latest residential brand, the Lil’ Apple, which will be launched simultaneously in two developments in Cape Town and Umhlanga totaling 600 apartments. The Lil’ Apple is set to be a brand of FWJK’s New York style apartments which will be rolled out nationally.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      It’s been a tumultuous year on many fronts, with socio-political uncertainty setting the tone for much of South Africa’s economic activity yet despite this and seemingly counter-intuitively, the residential property market has held up well.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      The EAAB (the Estate Agency Affairs Board) recently claimed that around 50,000 illegal estate agents could currently be operating illegally.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Penthouses are synonymous with New York – characterised by high-rise living that is decidedly luxurious and spacious. While exclusivity comes at a price, you can still create a “penthouse” look and feel in your existing apartment or even the upstairs bedroom of a double storey house with some clever design changes and styling touches.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      The area has long been popular with kite surfers and, with escalating property prices in Cape Town itself, is increasingly in demand with home owners who work in town, but are looking to invest in more affordable properties.
        
    X
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Name  
    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    select
    X
    Share this Page

       
    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    About
    Connect with us
    FEEDBACK