The Legal Details: How Belvedere kingpins believe Biznews defamed them

Cape Town money manager Kobus Kellerman - one of two SA kingpins behind the Belvedere Ponzi scam
Cape Town money manager Cobus Kellerman – one of two SA kingpins behind Belvedere

By Alec Hogg

Alleged Belvedere Ponzi kingpins Cobus Kellermann and David Cosgrove are attempting to engineer the greatest comeback since Lazarus. The prize is to clear their names of allegations of stealing money from investors through an alleged global web of deceit.

Their businesses have for months been the focus of investigations by three national financial regulators who have already shut down some subsidiaries. Investigations by the regulators is ongoing and due for completion at the end of May.

Last week the senior investigator at Guernsey’s Regulator produced a detailed and extremely damning affidavit when leading evidence to close down another three Belvedere companies and their underlying cells. The court approved the closures. Two more of Belvedere’s Guernsey-registered companies will be assessed by the same court on Friday.

The affidavit contains confirmation of dynamite accusations levelled by David Marchant who accused the South Africans of  running a “massive criminal enterprise.” Marchant’s OffshoreAlert, which calls itself the unofficial financial regulator, focuses on malfeasance in financial centres, including those where Belvedere operates.

David Marchant, whose hard-hitting expose attracted public attention to the duo, tells us: “I’ve still not had any complaints from Kellermann, Cosgrove or their representatives.” He is continuing to add to his raft of allegations with fresh articles.

With hindsight, the duo must be rue a decision at the outset not to engage after being sent timely warning of what was due to be published on Biznews. They appear to believe that proving their innocence lies in our hands.

They demanded Biznews publish a “prominent and full” retraction. You can read it all in the lengthy Werksmans letter which has been cut and pasted in full below.

Our answer, once again, is No.

The official response sent by our attorney yesterday is:

“We refer to your letter dated 2 April 2015. Our client denies that the articles referred to are unlawful. The articles are substantially true, constitute fair comment and are in the public interest. The reports and comments were made after your clients were requested to comment which they failed to do. The articles report on and comment upon relevant information widely covered by the domestic and international press and were published by my client in a reasonable and justifiable manner.”
Accompanying yesterday’s letter from our attorney was a request for comment on the affidavit from the Guernsey Financial Centre’s senior investigator. We have given Werksmans until close of business today so we can include their response when we make the affidavit accessible to South Africans.
FSB's Caroline da Silva - her assertions require answers
FSB’s Da Silva – investigating Kellermann for months.

We are also awaiting a response to questions submitted to Kellermann and Cosgrove’s attorneys Werksmans on March 30, the relevant part of which reads:

* I conducted an interview today for CNBC Africa with Caroline da Silva from the FSB relating to the Kellermann issue.  Your earliest response, especially to Ms Da Silva’s comments that the FSB was asked by its offshore counterparts who are doing the investigations to look into “suspicious” allocations of funds coming into SA, would be appreciated; as would the comment that Kellermann owns 75% to 100% of Contego Holdings. 
 
Also, please could you confirm that the Sunday Times quotes attributed to Kellerman are accurate ie:
 
“I wouldn’t know if it was a Ponzi scheme,”
 
He said he was an “absentee shareholder” of Stonewood Holdings, which owns 51% of Belvedere.
 
I am still awaiting your client’s explanation why he was marketing the Anchor Capital Offshore Fund – ie the article published at https://www.biznews.com/wealth-building/2015/03/26/armitage-vs-kellermann-on-anchor-offshore-fund-aberration-or-strategy/

And a day later:

We would obviously appreciate a further comment on this morning’s suspension by the Mauritius authority of RDL as reported by Bloomberg (https://www.biznews.com/wealth-building/2015/03/31/mauritius-suspends-licence-of-another-kellermanncosgrove-offshoot/)

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This letter was followed by the full transcript of the interview conducted with David Marchant which Theron says is defamatory as a whole. You can read it here.

* Click here to read the “back story” and access links to all the Biznews.com coverage of the Belvedere saga.

 

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