Jawitz trust storm brews
Criminal charge laid against franchise.
More than a year after property baroness Wendy Bernice Machanik was accused of "systemic misuse of trust moneys" Jawitz Properties has accused the owner of its Jeffreys Bay franchise, Renette Block, of theft and misappropriations of money believed to be in the region of between R200 000-R300 000.
A statement released on Friday said Jawitz is taking legal action against Block “amidst serious allegations of theft and misappropriations of moneys held in a trust and moneys paid to the franchise on behalf of their clients”.
Jawitz Properties CEO, Herschel Jawitz claims Block has admitted to having misappropriated the funds.
Despite saying “there are two sides to the story” Block refused to comment on the matter, however, when asked if she had admitted to the allegations she said “no I didn’t”.
“You must remember the image being sketched (by Jawitz Properties) is malicious, there is no proof of any financial audit having being done,” according Block’s attorney, Vian Charl Tee from Strauss Daly Attorneys in Port Elizabeth.
“It may be that there is a personal vendetta” being carried out against Block, he said.
“Other than that there is no comment,” he said.
Tee refused to comment when asked if Block had admitted to any form of maladministration and refused to comment when asked if his position was that Block was innocent of the allegations.
According to Jawitz, at the beginning of January, Jawitz Properties “started receiving some complaints from owners of properties we were managing … they were saying they hadn’t received rent despite the tenants saying they were adamant they had paid the rent.
“When these issue weren’t being resolved we realised there was something amiss, we confronted Block about it and she admitted that she had been taking money from the trust account and taking money from the transaction account which does not belong to her and should have been paid to owners”.
An independent audit contracted by Jawitz Properties to scrutinise the subsidiary, has found that there is a mismatch between funds going into and going out of the accounts, says Jawitz.
“These allegations still need to be proved in a court of law but as far as we are concerned there were funds that did not belong to Block that where misappropriated by her for her own use,” says Jawitz.
“Moneys are missing … we suspect it’s going to be in the region of two to three hundred thousand rand.”
Jawitz notes that some of the moneys have been repaid by Block and repaid to the affected clients.
A criminal charge has been laid against Block at the Jeffreys Bay police station. The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) has been notified and has thus far frozen the trust accounts affected by the fraud and misappropriation.
Jawitz is also pursuing an urgent High Court interdict to force the allegedly “uncooperative” Block to “hand over complete control over all the bank accounts to us so that we can better manage and ascertain exactly what is going on”.
The EAAB was unavailable for comment at the time of going to print.
“Like everyone else I guess she found herself in a very difficult financial situation and evidently believed that she would be able to put back the money as she took it but like all of these things, eventually it comes home to roost,” says Jawitz.