JOHANNESBURG- The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) has appointed independent inspectors to look into the allegations of foul play against Auction Alliance.
This comes after Auction Alliance’s board set up its own probe into claims of collusion between the firm and its CEO Rael Levitt, and banks, liquidators and attorneys.
The claims stem from a Saturday Star report that a 13-year old paper trail revealed the company had paid kickbacks to attorneys, liquidators, and bank staff to ensure business went their way.
The report also stated that billionaire Wendy Appelbaum was disputing the legality of an auction where she bought the wine estate Quoin Rock.
Appelbaum claimed she later found out she was the only genuine bidder and consequently lodged a complaint with the National Consumer Commission, citing irregularities. Levitt responded by suing her for defamation.
According to Margie Campbell, Acting HOD for marketing and communications at the EAAB, members of an independent auditing firm were appointed as inspectors.
“The appointed inspectors will, therefore, be investigating various issues that have manifested themselves from information received by the EAAB, which, has triggered the need for a regulatory inspection. The inspectors will have inspection powers both in terms of the Estate Agency Affairs Act and the Financial Intelligence Centre Act.
“The inspectors will investigate the matter without prejudice or favour and will, in due course, produce a report to be considered by the EAAB. Such an inspection is routine in any matter of this nature and will assist the EAAB in obtaining information to enable it to determine whether any further action needs to be pursued in this matter. It must be emphasised that there are no presumptions as to the outcome of the investigation on the part of the EAAB. AuctionAllianceand Mr Levitt have indicated to the EAAB that they welcome the inspection and will cooperate fully with the EAAB in this endeavour,” she said in a statement.
According to reports, Appelbaum also approached the National Consumer Commission. The Commission could not be reached. – With Sapa