[image source : Russell Roberts – Sunday Times]
The Sunday Times reported that former Auction Alliance boss, Rael Levitt would be arrested if he did not attend a hearing about alleged bidding irregularities. According to the writer who reported the story, Levitt had confirmed on the telephone that he was still in the United States – something that would concern the NCC.
This is what the Sunday Times had to say:
Embattled auctioneer Rael Levitt was still in the US yesterday – saying he was “not yet sure” when he will return to South Africa to face serious allegations over his business practices.
The former Auction Alliance chief executive is due to appear before the National Consumer Commission (NCC) in Centurion on Tuesday to answer questions about bidding irregularities.
But, when the Sunday Times reached him on the phone yesterday, he said: “I am travelling in the United States. I am not yet sure whether I will be there on Tuesday or not.”
If Levitt does not appear it will be the fourth time that he has missed a scheduled meeting with the NCC since a scandal erupted over his controversial auction of Quoin Rock wine estate to philanthropist Wendy Appelbaum in December.
NCC commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala was taken aback when told of Levitt’s whereabouts, having previously been told that Levitt was unable to return to South Africa due to religious commitments in Israel.
She said that if he missed the meeting on Tuesday, the NCC would approach the courts to obtain a warrant of arrest for Levitt.
Well it looks like the NCC have got their work cut out for them, because this is what Levitt’s attorneys have to say on the matter:
[Click ‘Continue Reading’ for more of this exclusive story]
Here is the statement from Rael Levitt’s Attorneys, Smiedt & Associates – following the Sunday Times report.
1. We act on behalf of Auction Alliance (Pty) LTD (“AA”) as well as its erstwhile chief executive officer, Rael Levitt (“Levitt”).
2. We address you in relation to the various media statements that have been made recently in published articles recently, particularly in relation to the National Consumer Commission (“NCC”) investigation and ruling in the Quoin Rock auction matter.
3. Some of these articles have suggested inter alia that
3.1 Levitt and/or AA has been found guilty of an offence and has been given a fine or a term of imprisonment;
3.2 Levitt has refused or failed to appear at hearings scheduled by the NCC;
3.3 Levitt may be arrested should he fail to appear at the NCC hearing, scheduled for 10th April 2012.
4. In relation to Levitt’s appearance before the NCC, we have repeatedly addressed the NCC on the fact that the summonses issued by them are invalid, particularly in respect of the manner in which they have purportedly been served. The NCC does not share our view. Ultimately this will have to be tested in due course in the appropriate forum.
5. We are aware of the media statement issued by the NCC on Friday 30 March 2012, wherein the NCC has purported to give its ruling in the Quoin Rock auction investigation. We hold instructions from our clients to review this ruling in the appropriate forum. We are in the process of preparing papers in this regard.
6. In our view it is wholly inappropriate and unfair to subject Levitt to a hearing at this stage to deal with the very matters, on which the NCC has already ruled. It would have been more appropriate, regular and lawful for the NCC to wait until after it had interviewed Levitt before giving its ruling in the matter. Its actions in this regard are in law, assailable. In its simplest form, the NCC should have procured the evidence prior to giving its ruling rather than giving the ruling and now seeking to procure evidence through its interview with Levitt.
7. In the circumstances and for the reasons stated above, we have advised the NCC that Levitt has sufficient cause not to appear before the NCC until such time as the challenge to the 30 March 2012 ruling of the NCC has been finalized.
8. We have requested the NCC to give us notice of any application to the Magistrate’s Court if they intend to apply for a warrant as we intend to make representations to the relevant Magistrate, that the summonses were not properly served, as is required by the Consumer Protection Act as well as the Criminal Procedure Act no 51 of 1977, and are therefore invalid.
9. We mention further that Levitt has not been found guilty of fraud nor bid rigging. The NCC has ruled that our clients are guilty of contravening certain aspects of the Consumer Protection Act. No criminal trial has taken place in respect of these rulings.
10. It should also be mentioned in this regard the NCC does not have the right to impose jail sentences upon persons. That is reserved for the Courts in our country. Neither Levitt nor AA have been convicted of any offence, appeared in any Court or been required to stand any trial.
Your move, NCC.
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