Prasa: Liquidators demand R12m from Auswell Mashaba

Liquidators appointed to recover over R2.6-billion unlawfully paid to the now insolvent Swifambo Rail Leasing company by Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) for the failed tall trains project, are demanding over R12-million from the company owner, Auswell Mashaba.

The liquidators are also demanding that Mashaba forfeit any claim he may have had against the insolvent estate of the Gauteng-based company.

The startling details are contained in the court order the five liquidators obtained in the Joburg High Court last month to force Mashaba and his legal team to file discovery papers ahead of their showdown over the tax paper’s money.

In the court papers, which Sunday World has seen, the liquidators said during March 2013, Swifambo concluded a contract with Prasa, in which the company was expected to provide 70 locomotives to the value of approximately R3.5-billion to the parastatal.

Swifambo supplied Prasa with 13 of the 70 locomotives, the papers said, and the state-owned company paid Swifambo and its sister company Ralipro, over R2.6-billion between April 2013 and July 2015.

They said on July 3, 2017, Prasa obtained a court order in the Joburg High Court to set aside Prasa’s decision to award the tender to Swifambo, and the decision by the parastatal to enter into a contract with the entity, with retrospective effect.

Swifambo challenged the high court decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal, but the appeal was dismissed with costs on November 30, 2018.

After the dismissal of the appeal, Prasa returned the locomotives, which Swifambo had supplied and became entitled to the repayment of over R2.6-billion.

After the dismissal of the appeal, read the papers, Swifambo resolved on December 13, 2018, by way of a special resolution, to be voluntarily liquidated. The Master of the High Court appointed liquidators on March 18, 2019.

On May 28, 2019, the liquidators obtained an order declaring Swifambo to be unable to pay its debts.

They also said Ralipro also resolved on December 13, 2018, by way of resolution, to be voluntarily liquidated. The Master of the High appointed its liquidators on March 13, 2019.

On September 17, 2019, Ralipro liquidators obtained an order, declaring Swifambo to be unable to pay its debts.

The liabilities of both Swifambo and Ralipro exceeded the assets, and they were unable to pay their debts.

The liquidators said Swifambo had, between April 2013 and July 2015, paid R11-million into the account of a law firm, Girard Haywood Incorporated, on Mashaba’s behalf.

Girard Haywood, they said, was appointed as the escrow agent in a transaction where Mashaba sought to purchase 30% of the members’ interest at Innovative Parma Strategies for R25-million.

Apart from the R11-million, they said, Girard Haywood also received deposits totaling R14-million from Mashaba’s trust, the Mamoroko Makolele Trust, and another corporation, Tsholetso Projects CC.

Pamoja, a consulting company that represented Mashaba in the Innovative Pharma Strategies deal, instructed Girard Haywood to distribute the funds to various recipients.

The liquidators said Ralipro had on October 25, 2013, paid Mashaba a total of R11-million between October 2013 and August 8, 2015, while Ralipro paid him over R1.6-million.

These payments, they said, constituted a disposition.

They said after effecting these payments, Ralipro and Swifambo were unable to pay their debts, and this prejudiced the creditors of both companies.

They said Mashaba, Ralipro and Swifambo, through such payments, had defrauded the company’s creditors.

“Each and every payment made by Swifambo and Ralipro to, or for and on behalf of the defendant, is liable to be set aside in terms of section 31 (1) of the Insolvency Act,” read the papers.

After the setting aside of the payments, liquidators wanted Mashaba to pay back the monies paid to him by the companies.

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