PICS: Game farms, holiday homes among assets valued at over R59 million seized as NPA guns for alleged Ponzi kingpins

Published May 28, 2024


The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has seized a range of assets from three men accused of orchestrating an intricate Ponzi scheme.

The NPA's Phindi Mjonondwane said with the help of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (also known as the Hawks) and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), they were able to seize vehicles, game farms and holiday homes from various parts of the country including; Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, and the North West.

She explained that the assets belonged to the accused in the matter, Kelvin Cholwich, Theunis Johannes Schoeman and Johan De Clerk and their associates who allegedly benefited from the scheme.

The men face charges ranging from fraud to contraventions of the Banks Act.

"The fourth mastermind of the scheme, Robert Paul Weimer, died in 2017 before the commencement of the trial," Mjonondwane said.

Some of the seized assets. Picture: NPA/Supplied

Some of the seized assets. Picture: NPA/Supplied

Some of the seized assets. Picture: NPA/Supplied


The matter stems from a series of complaints in 2015, which prompted the SARB to launch an investigation into certain entities that appeared to be the chosen vehicles for running the Ponzi scheme.

The SARB appointed Ernst & Young Advisory Services (Pty) Ltd to investigate as the SARB had reason to believe that the accused were illegally conducting “the business of a bank” contrary to the relevant provisions of the Banks Act.

The NPA explained that the investigation showed that between 2012 and 2016, the four accused (including Weimer) were the main role-players in the scheme, which operated under the name 'FinCapital' and related companies to commit the fraud.

"In short, the accused would, through television, newspapers and other means, approach members of the public, described as “licence partners” once they joined and invested, and inform them about passive income and/or investment opportunities in the entities linked to the Ponzi scheme.

“They allegedly enticed investors by offering them high and unrealistic monthly income/returns of between 25 – 45% on their investments," Mjonondwane said.

The victims were fleeced out of over R100 million when they invested.

Mjonondwane said most of the money was shared by the accused for personal enjoyment, private gain or advantage, and outside endeavours unrelated to the stated purpose of the purported business.

She added that all of which effectively served to launder the tainted funds.

Some of the seized assets. Picture: NPA/Supplied

Some of the seized assets. Picture: NPA/Supplied

Some of the seized assets. Picture: NPA/Supplied

"In the NDPP’s court papers, it is alleged that the accused benefited and the respondents and/or individuals linked to them consequently received affected gifts derived from the Ponzi scheme run by the accused from around 2012 to 2016 when the SARB intervened, followed by the investigation that was led by the Hawks, including private forensic investigators.

"Earlier today, the restraint order was executed. Various Sheriffs of the High Court, duly accompanied by representatives of the court-appointed curator bonis and officials from various regional offices of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority, attached all the assets in question, effectively putting them in the custody of the curator in line with the restraint order, pending the outcome of the ongoing criminal case," Mjonondwane said.

The Head of the AFU, Adv Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba, welcomed the order which has been executed and acknowledges collaboration with the Hawks and the SARB to attain the same.

IOL News