You may have heard the story of Candice-Jean van der Merwe before (we covered it back in 2014), but for those who haven’t, let’s do a little recap.
The 26-year-old lingerie model, as City Press describes her, has been fighting SARS and the SA Reserve Bank for the best part of five years, stemming from a 2013 donation of $15,3 million (around R212 million today) that she received from a mystery “companion”.
She now plans to sue Tito Mboweni for a whopping R1 billion, citing “alleged violations of her rights and damage to her reputation”, and the draft court papers name the mystery companion as Saad Hariri, the mega-rich prime minister of Lebanon.
So, how does one get a gift of more than $15 million? By being lekker, man:
In earlier court papers, Van der Merwe said she could only think that it was her “engaging personality, healthy lifestyle and sober habits” that made her so popular at The Plantation resort in the Seychelles, a secretive luxury playground for the super-rich.
According to Van der Merwe, her agency, Ice Models, regularly sent models to this island, where the richest of the rich can relax in absolute privacy. The models’ passports are taken away when they arrive and they are not allowed to take any photos or tell stories of what happens there, said Van der Merwe.
The first two times she went, she flew economy class, but thereafter flew business or first class. All the travel arrangements were made by Ice Models, and she sometimes had to be available at just a few hours’ notice.
She met Hariri at The Plantation.
Along with the multimillion-dollar donation, Van der Merwe was given an Audi R8 and a Range Rover Evoque – together, worth R2.7 million – as presents, she claims. This after she let slip on the island that these were her favourite cars.
Hate it when you “let slip” what your favourite cars are, and the mega-wealthy future prime minister of Lebanon snaps them up as a gift for you.
Urgh, the worst.
We break briefly to take a trip down memory lane and this FHM shoot from 2011:
The real problem is that SARS has always suspected that the money is actually from her father, businessman Gary van der Merwe, and the pair have been embroiled in a tax investigation spanning years:
…documents in possession of City Press’ sister newspaper, Rapport, show that Sars and Van der Merwe have buried the hatchet, after she paid R44 million in income tax in 2016.
Although donations by foreigners are not taxable, the settlement that Van der Merwe reached with Sars has now seen the money being classified as “other income”.
In Van der Merwe’s claim against the minister, she alleges that Sars knew all along that the money was actually a donation, but failed to disclose this fact in litigation related to this matter.
This omission by Sars has caused her immeasurable damage, she claims.
In a letter sent by her lawyer to Treasury it states: “The plaintiff’s relationship with Mr Hariri was terminated, which resulted in the loss of financial benefits that would have accrued to her from the relationship if it had been allowed to persist without outside interference.”
If you take a look at her tax returns, that multi-million dollar cash injection meant that she could take her foot off the modelling pedal in the years that followed:
According to her 2014 tax return, attached to the letter sent to the minister, she earned R3 333 from an advertising agency and her declared income from other modelling work came to R11 530. The year before that, she earned just over R20 000 from modelling.
The donation in 2013 was a round figure of $15 299 965.
A very nice round figure indeed.
With those funds having been frozen, Candice-Jean has had a real hard time of it:
Van der Merwe said it was embarrassing and utterly inconvenient to continuously ask a curator for her own money when her assets were frozen.
Among other things, she said, she needed money for four “domestic servants”, four gardeners and groundsmen, as well as three security guards.
A spokesperson for the Treasury said they had received the letter related to the new court case, but wouldn’t comment on the matter.
Looks like Candice-Jean’s modelling career is still going strong, as this video from a year ago shows:
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