THE liquidated Quoin Rock Estate in the Western Cape has been sold for R85m to the owner of Quoin Rock Vineyards after being put on the market for a second time since a controversial auction in December last year.
The liquidators, Sechaba Trust, said the offer was accepted on Friday morning.
"This vindicates the position held by the liquidators all along that the offer received at the auction in December did not represent fair value," a source close to the deal said.
It made a mockery of the contention by the National Consumer Commission that businesswoman Wendy Appelbaum was entitled to "get" the farm for R30m, he said.
The 198ha Quoin Rock Estate was bought by a company domiciled outside South Africa but represented by Dale Irvine, director of Sentinel Advisory Services, and Yolandi Olivier, Sentinel’s legal adviser in Cape Town.
It is the same company that bought Quoin Rock Vineyards near Cape Agulhas for R13m on July 28.
The estate was previously owned by businessman Dave King who had been embroiled in legal battles with the South African Revenue Service (SARS), which claimed he owed them more than R2,7bn in outstanding taxes.
The new owner will need to pay SARS, as the creditor, after the fees and expenses of the liquidators have been taken care of. SARS’s proven claim against the estate amounts to R47m. After other concurrent creditors have received their claims, the surplus funds will go the Reserve Bank in terms of exchange control violations.
Adrian Lackay, spokesman for SARS, said with the second round of the sale it was decided to call for offers rather than going the auction route again. The liquidators accepted offers until August 14, and 24 entities showed interest, he said.
At the auction in December, the bidding process started at R75m but was reduced to R30m by the former boss of Auction Alliance, Rael Levitt, who conducted the auction, when there was no one who matched the bid.
Ms Appelbaum’s bid of R55m was eventually accepted but in January this year she laid a complaint with the National Consumer Commission that Auction Alliance engaged a ghost bidder during the auction. Conducting a "mock auction" is a contravention of the Consumer Protection Act.
The commission issued a compliance notice against Auction Alliance and Sechaba Trust, and even tried to have Mr Levitt arrested after he did not show up for further questioning before the commission.
The application for a warrant of arrest was unsuccessful and the compliance notice was subsequently set aside by the Consumer Tribunal. The review application by the commission to have the decision by the tribunal set aside was dismissed by the North Gauteng High Court with three punitive cost orders against the commission. The application was opposed by the tribunal, the liquidators and Auction Alliance.
Business Day was not able to get comment from Ms Appelbaum.