Business buyer who tried to do seller in must pay up

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The businessperson who bought a Benoni woman’s business, but then devised a scheme to evade paying for it in full, was refused leave to appeal against a ruling in her favour yesterday.

Sonia van der Merwe ran her family’s computer accessory business, Legion Lock & Cable, on her own for years after the gruesome murder of her parents Frans and Gina van der Merwe, her brother Daryl and his wife, Melissa, in 2004.

She decided to sell the business to businessperson Jaco Fourie for R4.5 million in 2012.

Fourie, who bought Van der Merwe’s business through a family trust, only paid the first installment of R2 million. Thereafter he refused to pay the balance of R2.5 million.

Van der Merwe was awarded the outstanding purchase price on arbitration, and obtained a court order for payment, but Fourie’s family trust still did not pay.

In desperation, she had the trust’s interest in Legion Lock & Cable attached, only to find that Fourie had “sold” all of the business assets and the rights of the Legion name and goodwill for a mere R1 to his own company, Legion Computer.

This meant the once thriving family business was an empty shell.

Van der Merwe took Fourie to court to hold him personally liable for the outstanding balance, claiming he had acted fraudulently and recklessly as the “puppet master” of the trust in selling Legion Lock’s assets to himself and avoid paying the trust’s debts to her while continuing to operate the business through his new company.

Fourie raised numerous technical defences against the claim.

But Judge Nomsa Khumalo ruled in Van der Merwe’s favour in the High Court in Pretoria and yesterday refused Fourie leave to appeal her ruling.

The judge found that Fourie’s conduct had been deliberate and dishonest.

She said he had orchestrated the fraudulent and deceitful deals using his position as a trustee and was personally liable to pay Van der Merwe the R2.5 million owed to her by his family trust.

Fourie indicated that he would approach the Supreme Court of Appeal. Van der Merwe said it would be a useless endeavour as the facts remained the same.

Applicant lost family

The bodies of Van der Merwe’s parents, her brother and his wife were found riddled with bullets near the Loskop Dam in Mpumalanga in 2004. A former supervisor at the family business, Vincent Khubeka, and three other men were sentenced to life in jail for the murders.

ilsedl@citizen.co.za

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Source:citizen.co.za