40 574 Fidentia victims ‘missing’, unpaid

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Trustees of the Living Hands Umbrella Trust have R60 million to distribute, but they must still trace and verify the 40 574 people who are entitled to this money.

The Living Hands beneficiaries are all victims of the Fidentia scandal, in which more than a billion rand was blown on company expenses and assets of questionable value. Leander Kock, an assistant to the Living Hands trustees, says that the inherited database does not have all details of beneficiaries, and in most cases their details are also not up-to-date.

Says Kock: “Assistance from the principal officers of source funds has been requested, however, but for assistance from a few source funds, no information has been forthcoming.

“Although there was an initial surge of beneficiaries making contact, this after nationwide and cross-border radio advertising, newspaper and government gazette advertising, the contact has slowed tremendously over the months.”

The trustees are not able to pay distributions to beneficiaries who they are not aware of, or whose details are incomplete or incorrect. The Living Hands trustees have identified 57 949 beneficiaries that are eligible to receive funds from the trust. Of these

17 375 were traced and verified, and a total of R20 635 906 was distributed them, the trustees revealed in a media release issued last week. Beneficiaries are paid a pro rata percentage of their capital, equal to 5.8 months stipends. In most cases, this amounts to just a small fraction of what was originally invested. Some returns have been a laughably low as 3%.

The size of any further distribution will depend on the success of litigation against Old Mutual and 18 other defendants. The trustees say they hope to report on the outcome of this litigation towards the latter part of 2014 or the beginning of 2015.

The litigation is being funded by an overseas investor on a contingency basis. Beneficiaries who have not been verified or who have not received payment should contact Squirrel Benefit Administrators by emailing them at claims@squirrelba.co.za.

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