Durban businessman cleared of charges but paid heavy price

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

The charges apparently resulted in a flurry of false and hurtful allegations against the company on social media.

A Durban businessman said that a year after he was accused of fraud and racketeering, his business continued to suffer simply because the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) publicised the case but did not do the same when he was acquitted.

Businessman Shoayb Joosub, the owner of Anglowealth Shariah, this week complained about the “dark cloud” that still hung over his business owing to media reports on the criminal allegations levelled against him.

Joosub said it didn’t help that he was charged with many other people whose surname was the same as his.

They were brought before the courts for their alleged involvement in the fraudulent registration of VAT vendors at the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

The state alleged that Joosub and his associates electronically submitted fraudulent VAT refund claims to the value of R99,190,298 using the 15 fraudulently registered VAT vendors. They were allegedly refunded R30,598,948 by SARS.

On February 9 2018, the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) successfully brought an urgent restraint application against Joosub, Anglowealth Shariah, and others.

The court issued an order restraining the properties of various parties, including Anglowealth Shariah. The assets included jewellery, gold coins, gold bars, and several top-end cars, among them Mercedes-Benz AMG, Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini.

At the time, the NDPP said the Joosub had been charged along with 11 other accused persons.

The company Anglowealth Shariah, which was founded in 2013 as a pioneering Shariah-based company, was also named as a suspect.

On its website, the company says: “Our advisory services include portfolios that [span] over tourism, mining resources, infrastructure, renewable energy, petrochemicals, telecommunications, financial services, healthcare, etc.

“Anglowealth offers professional financial advisory and services that [enable] us to assist you with your personal and business financial planning requirements.”

But court documents suggested otherwise. They detailed an elaborate scam allegedly involving Joosub and his company Anglowealth Shariah to defraud SARS of millions through VAT refunds.

This week, the exasperated Durban businessman recalled how “the initial order resulted in a flurry of false and hurtful allegations against the company on social media, as well as in the print media”.

“This included references to the company being a ‘R750 million ponzi scheme’, to the company offices being ‘raided by the Hawks’ and to company assets being ‘seized’. These sensationalist allegations caused grave reputational damage to Anglowealth Shariah.”

Joosub said about a year ago – on March 28 2018 – he successfully sought an ex parte hearing in which his lawyers successfully challenged the court order secured by the NDPP.

The same judge who had granted the initial order discharged the order against Joosub and Anglowealth Shariah in the High Court in Pretoria. The judge also ordered the NDPP to pay costs.

This week Joosub provided proof that the charges against him had been quashed. Copies of court documents seen by the African News Agency (ANA) indicate that the charges were withdrawn. However, repeated efforts to get comment from the NPA on the matter were unsuccessful.

It could therefore not be ascertained whether charges of racketeering and fraud were still being pursued against the other accused.

The NPA regularly sends notices to the media about cases they have brought against accused persons. But it could not be ascertained what the NPA policy was regarding cases where the accused person had charges withdrawn or was acquitted. Neither could it be ascertained whether the NPA did, in fact, notify the media that such charges had failed to stick.

Commenting on the matter, press ombudsman Johan Retief said: “I do not believe that there is any onus on the NPA to inform the media via press releases. However, if the NPA has released a press statement that X has appeared in court, I do believe it should follow it up with a judgment. There is no law, or anything in the press code, though, that binds it to do so.”

– African News Agency

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.

 

today in print