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Thu Sep 18 01:36:01 SAST 2014

Feud rips Krok family apart

Kin Hawkey | 06 February, 2010 22:350 Comments

Health of skin-lightening tycoon Abe, 80, sinks as five of his children fight stepmother and their brother

Tycoon Abe Krok's wife and children have been at odds over control of the family's vast fortune.

And the deep-seated distrust between the 80-year-old's adult children and his wife has affected the health of the ailing former businessman.

Krok and his identical twin, Solly, made a fortune selling skin-whitening cream in the apartheid era and added to their wealth by founding Gold Reef Resorts and casinos.

Now, following a High Court application by five of his six children, the former businessman has been declared incapable of managing his affairs.

In December, a final order granted in the High Court in Johannesburg confirmed an earlier order that stripped Krok - a former pharmacist worth more than R1-billion - of all power over his affairs.

The case has revealed Abe Krok's decline from a shrewd businessman and socialite to a fragile and confused old man.

In addition to coping with the effects of dementia and Parkinson's disease, Krok has had to put up with squabbling between his children from his first two marriages and Rosie, his wife for the past 26 years, over control of the family empire.

Five of his six adult children - Elana Pincus, Shelly Croock, Simone Lerman and sons David and Mark - obtained a court order to have a curator appointed to take over his affairs.

The Krok fortune includes several family trusts, each holding "many hundreds of millions of rands", set up in 1994.

Krok's eldest son, Maxim, and his stepmother, Rosie, did not want a curator - unless it was one or both of them.

The five siblings accused Maxim of putting documents in front of their vulnerable father and coercing him to sign.

Pincus, Krok's eldest daughter and a medical doctor, said in an affidavit: "It is the view of the applicants that Maxim has sought to exert undue influence over the patient over the past few years, and has induced the patient into executing various documents, the import of which has not been appreciated by the patient."

The five children also claimed that Rosie, although a loving and supportive wife, was a reckless Internet gambler.

In a report submitted to court, interim curator advocate Karen Green noted that the five "allege that (Rosie) is a profligate gambler on the Internet and that ... the trusts have been required to bail her out of the debts which she has incurred in this way".

"They alleged that during the period 27 June to 22 July 2008 Rosie spent at least R85700 on Internet gambling."

Green said the children claimed Rosie had little control over her expenditure and had regularly exceeded the limits of money made available to her.

Furthermore, Green said, it was not feasible for Maxim to be placed in charge of his father's estate, as his brothers and sisters had genuine misgivings about him and did not trust him.

She told the court that Maxim and his stepmother had accused the others of going to court to get "back door" control of valuable family trusts, rather than being motivated by any true concern for their father.

Maxim and Rosie believed that the others were "incapable" of earning money and relied on income from the trusts.

Green said they suspected the others would try to manipulate a curator for control of the valuable family trusts.

The two added that, with the exception of David Krok, the other children were "estranged" from their father.

Maxim declined, through an attorney, to comment. He managed the trusts through his company, Highveld Medical Services. In the past, he is said to have refused the other children access to trust meetings unless they made "onerous confidentiality undertakings".

Krok, who lives in Sandhurst, Johannesburg, lives off monthly loans from the trusts, as well as money from Maxim and Mark, which isn't meant to be repaid.

The recent court order confirmed the appointment of a curator and provided that the trustees could act without Krok if he lacked the capacity to do so.

Doctors' reports attached to the application detailed how Krok's health has deteriorated in the past four years.

His family described incidents where Krok buttered a serviette instead of a slice of bread, wrote on a tablecloth instead of a piece of paper placed in front of him, imagined seeing a woman who wasn't there and called his wife by the name of a former spouse.

  • There are concerns that the emotional stress of dealing with the Krok dynasty has added to the octogenarian's deterioration. hawkeyk@sundaytimes.co.za
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Feud rips Krok family apart

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