Hanna Barry
2 minute read
9 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Surapure locked in business rescue

Hanna Barry

SuraPure Drinks has been placed under business rescue and if FNB lifts the freeze placed on its account, the company's funds will fall under the control of its business rescue practitioners.

Image courtesy stock.xchnge (KillR-B)

Council for SuraPure, Advocate Don Mahon, announced this in the South Gauteng High Court yesterday.

He said FNB didn’t understand the business and had not given SuraPure a satisfactory reason for freezing its account.

SuraPure could have as many as 60 000 members, with millions of rands invested.

SuraPure was to bring an urgent interdict against FNB to unfreeze the account, but the matter has been postponed indefinitely now that SuraPure has been placed under business rescue.

Reading a statement from the micro-retailer, Advocate Mahon told Business that in light of the allegations levelled against SuraPure, it had taken the decision to be placed under business rescue so that independent third parties could investigate its affairs.

These business rescue practitioners would engage with various role players and work towards saving the company, given the obstacles it faces.

In the event that FNB did unfreeze SuraPure’s account, the funds would be placed under the control of the business rescue practitioners who would decide how to address the concerns of regulators. A representative of the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) confirmed that the bank had appointed inspectors to investigate SuraPure and was aware that it had been placed under business rescue.

The registrar of banks has sent SuraPure a letter requesting information and expects a response from the company this week.

SuraPure has requested patience from stakeholders, saying that a formal communication will be released as soon as possible.

Responding to a remark from the judge, Advocate Mahon said there had been suggestions that SuraPure had the hallmarks of a pyramid scheme.

Last week SuraPure opened an account with Absa after failing to convince FNB to unfreeze its account, but its woes deepened when Absa also started probing its affairs.

Absa said “appropriate action will be taken based on our findings”. SuraPure opened its Absa account last Wednesday so that its members could keep investing money.

“The business has come to a standstill and we need to continue producing and distributing bottled water,” Cornelius Van der Merwe, SuraPure director, said.

One investor, a civil servant, told Moneyweb that he had taken a R20 000 personal loan from FNB to invest in SuraPure because his family could not live off his salary.

He said he was drawing around R2 000 in profit a week, which helped him pay bills and provide food for his wife and children.

The investor is worried that he might have to sell his house to pay the FNB loan back if the SuraPure matter is not resolved.

Head of legal at FNB, Shaun Chelin, said the bank acted correctly in placing a hold on the SuraPure account and he was confident it had acted in the best interests of customers.