'Fraud' victims pursue billionaire Martin Levick

Investors seek assets of flashy CEO said to be mastermind of global scam

12 May 2019 - 00:00 By KGAUGELO MASWENENG and JEFF WICKS

Multibillionaire businessman Martin Levick faces a mammoth court battle to hang on to plush properties, flashy cars and artworks while his creditors, alleged to have been fleeced in a fraud scam that spanned the globe, line up to collect.
Levick, previously at the helm of Johannesburg-based Genesis Capital Group of companies, is accused of pocketing hundreds of millions of rands from people in Israel, London and Australia.
Now his jilted investors, fearing he is flogging his assets and will up and run, have rushed to the high court in Johannesburg to have the well-heeled alleged fraudster declared insolvent and sequestrated.
Papers before the court, obtained by the Sunday Times, reveal a complex web of property deals, as well as allegations that Levick swindled businessman Anthony Ball, co-founder and former CEO of equity firm Brait, of millions in a fake deal involving an artwork by famous British street artist Banksy. An application for final sequestration will be heard in June.
Alleged in court documents to be among Levick's assets is a luxury apartment in Clifton, Cape Town, with panoramic ocean views, valued at a staggering R180m, as well as a house in Houghton valued at R30m. Also listed is a R2.5m Aston Martin car, "investment art" valued at R8m, furniture and fittings worth R6.5m and R1bn in investments.
An Australian family, the Segals, applied to have Levick provisionally sequestrated last month. Shareholders of companies based in Guernsey and the British Virgin Islands then followed suit.
In the court challenge, Rael Segal laid bare how his father's close relationship with Levick had soured after the businessman "misappropriated" $29m - almost R420m.
The cash, Segal claimed, was earmarked for business and property "co-investment" in Levick's group of companies. The investments, Segal said, were never made.
When the money disappeared and after failed attempts to get Levick to settle his bill, the family took him to court.
"Unless his estate is sequestrated urgently, there is every reason to believe that he will continue to select which creditors to pay and which creditors to leave high and dry."
Ball applied to join the Segals' action in a bid to recover R115m owed to his companies, Chester Holdings Ltd and Illovo Ltd.Ball confirmed the court action to the Sunday Times but declined to comment further. However, in court papers he says: "Levick has stolen funds under false pretences and used those stolen funds to pay another creditor ... Levick will self-evidently devise further unlawful schemes in order to avoid being held to account from his general body of creditors."
Ball claimed Levick's theft pertained to $3.5m the former had paid in what would later emerge as a fictional art deal in 2018.
Levick allegedly claimed the art piece was by Banksy and was destined for the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. He allegedly assured Ball they would make a handsome profit when it was resold.
The money was in fact used to pay another creditor, who had threatened Levick, the court papers allege.
In Ball's papers, he names another investor, Christopher Brand, who he alleges is owed as much as R243m.
Fluxmans Attorneys, on behalf of Ball, said: "Pursuant to our client's intervention application we secured on 23 April 2019 a provisional sequestration order against Levick." The attorneys said a final order would be made on June 4.
The law firm representing the Segal family, Edelstein Farber Grobler Inc, confirmed that the court had granted the provisional sequestration order.
Firm secretary Naomi Fick said a trustee for Levick's estate would be appointed soon.
Gregory Edelstein, who represents the Segal family, said the family could not comment as the matter was sub judice.
A woman who answered a landline at Levick's Houghton home, who would not give her name, said Levick was not there.
Allegations of malfeasance were put to Levick, who said he could not respond owing to his mother's ill-health and his duty to care for her. He referred requests for comment to his attorney.
Levick's attorney, Marco Martini, said he could not disclose whether or not he would oppose the order sought by the Segals to finally sequestrate Levick's estate.
The Sunday Times visited the offices of Genesis in Illovo, seeking comment.
Managing director Stanley Melnick said the allegations on which the various sequestration applications were based related to Levick in his personal capacity.
He said Genesis had acted "swiftly to secure Levick's resignation as director and CEO of Genesis Capital, and thereafter his suspension and subsequent resignation as an employee" after being alerted.
Melnick said that depending on the outcome of sequestration proceedings against Levick, appropriate legal action could follow.
Hawks spokeswoman Capt Carol Mulamu said Levick was under investigation.
"Two dockets have been registered relating to an investment scam. One is with the serious commercial crimes division and the other with the serious economic crimes unit. The investigation is ongoing," she said.

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