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AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY

Court throttles money supply to Markus Jooste’s alleged mistress

Court throttles money supply to Markus Jooste’s alleged mistress
From left: Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | Socialite Berdine Odendaal. (Photo: Supplied)

The Cape Town High Court has rejected socialite Berdine Odendaal’s attempt to access more money from her bank accounts frozen by the SA Reserve Bank. The funds are suspected to have come from illicit Steinhoff money channelled to her by her alleged lover, Markus Jooste.

The South African Reserve Bank was legally entitled to stop monthly payouts of R150,000 to alleged Steinhoff heist beneficiary Berdine Odendaal, the Cape Town High Court has found.

Odendaal’s attempt to access more money from her bank accounts frozen by the SA Reserve Bank for suspected exchange control violations has backfired badly, with the socialite now cut off from her supply.

Between July 2021 and March 2022, Odendaal received about R1.4-million in monthly payments. In February 2022, she launched an application in the Cape Town High Court seeking an order that the SA Reserve Bank pay her legal fees, over and above the monthly payments of R150,000.

On Thursday, Judge Derek Wille dismissed Odendaal’s attempt to have further funds unblocked from frozen accounts. Odendaal, a socialite and keen polo player, has been romantically linked to the disgraced former Steinhoff CEO, Markus Jooste.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Markus Jooste’s ‘lover’ Berdine Odendaal lives off Steinhoff riches, Reserve Bank suspects

In future, the SA Reserve Bank will only consider the release of any funds to Odendaal “for reasonable expenses” after the presentation of “sufficient proof that the alleged expense had been incurred, and that it is an expense that justifies the release of funds”.

Judge Wille said that Odendaal, by way of her application to the court, had insisted on terms “inconsistent with the correct interpretation of the agreement” with the SA Reserve Bank in 2021.

By launching the current application and demanding payment of legal expenses in addition to the R150,000 monthly payments, Odendaal “unequivocally indicated that she did not consider herself bound by the valid agreement”, the judge said.

Hitting the jackpot

In April last year, the SA Reserve Bank’s financial surveillance department (FinSurv) attached Odendaal’s assets, totalling around R25-million, which included a house in Pretoria, properties in Val de Vie, Paarl, a stand at Mabalingwe Nature Reserve in Limpopo, and two cars.

Daily Maverick’s Pauli van Wyk previously revealed how Odendaal hit the jackpot when just over R60.5-million in 12 tranches was shifted into her accounts from Jooste’s horse racing company, Mayfair Speculators, between 2011 and 2015.

After the collapse of Steinhoff in 2017, the SA Reserve Bank determined that the source of Odendaal’s wealth probably originated from the company’s international operations.

Jooste’s Mayfair Speculators funnelled money to Odendaal in a manner that is suspected to have contravened exchange control regulations.

SARB freezes billions in Steinhoff accounts — but you wouldn’t notice in company financial statements

 

No way, José

After the initial freezing of Odendaal’s accounts, the SA Reserve Bank had consented to “the registration of transfer of some of those specific immovable properties on the condition that the proceeds remained subject to a blocking order and held in trust by a stakeholder”.

In addition, the bank issued blocking orders on four of Odendaal’s “discrete” banking accounts. Odendaal did not challenge the validity of the blocking orders.

In this court application, Jooste’s supposed mistress argued that her constitutional rights had been breached by the SA Reserve Bank’s refusal to fork out additional funds for legal fees over and above the monthly payments of R150,000.

When Odendaal’s lawyers later badgered the SA Reserve Bank to provide her with “access [to all] the [money] in her [blocked] bank accounts in order to cover her fixed monthly expenses and living costs, as well as her legal costs”, the bank asked for a breakdown of income, fixed monthly expenses, reasonable living expenses and legal costs.

“Significantly, R80,000.00 [of the R150,000] of this amount was related to the upkeep of the applicant’s horses,” the bank noted.

What the SA Reserve Bank had agreed to was that Odendaal’s “reasonable” legal fees would be paid from the funds available in her blocked bank accounts “upon receipt by us of tax invoices as deemed necessary”.

It also stated that it felt her current income “is sufficient to cover her essential monthly expenses”.

In other words, the R150,000 was enough for legal and other costs.

Judge Wille considered that the SA Reserve Bank had contended that it had been “amenable to releasing some funds” to Odendaal “in terms of an agreement” but that this agreement had since been lawfully cancelled.

Odendaal, the central bank argued, had not established a clear right regarding any additional agreement and had pursued no review application in this regard. Communication between the SA Reserve Bank and Odendaal had amounted to a “counteroffer”.

Gimme more

Previously the SA Reserve Bank, in 2021, had agreed to Odendaal opening a new bank account at Nedbank into which a balance of about R1.7-million from the frozen accounts would be transferred.

“An amount of R150,000.00 will be released from this newly opened bank account to your client each month for all the reasonable expenses of your client, and the remaining funds in the new bank account will be subject to the blocking order issued,” SA Reserve Bank lawyers wrote to Odendaal.

A payment of R89,067.50 had been released to Odendaal after a request but this amount did not relate to her legal fees, said the SA Reserve Bank.

“More requests followed for the payment of insurance costs and the repayment of R100,000.00 regarding specific occupational interest that was inadvertently deposited into the applicant’s blocked Nedbank account,” court papers revealed.

The SA Reserve Bank had agreed to release additional amounts of R276,365.49 “on a highly exceptional and once-off basis” to allow Odendaal to defray expenses concerning her insurance and repay to her occupational interest that a lessee had paid into her blocked Nedbank account “in error”. 

Despite this agreement, Odendaal continued to request the release of more funds.

Bring the receipts

When Odendaal had repudiated her original agreement with the central bank, she amended her notice of motion to “now also seek payment of the initially agreed monthly amount in the sum of R150,000.00”, Judge Wille noted.

The central bank had asked Odendaal to provide an updated list of her monthly income and balance sheet and she was “invited to attach this list of her monthly income and her balance sheet to her replying affidavit”.

No such response or documentation had been attached to Odendaal’s replying affidavit “and the recent financial position of the applicant is absent from the papers that were presented before me at the hearing of the matter,” the judge said.

The core dispute was whether the SA Reserve Bank had validly cancelled the agreement between itself and Odendaal, and if it had not, whether Odendaal enjoyed “a contractual or another legal right to payment of monies to cover her reasonable legal fees”.

The SA Reserve Bank had proposed a package of “reasonable legal fees” and “no contribution towards monthly expenses” which was rejected by Odendaal. What she wanted was the unblocking of her Nedbank account to cover her legal and other costs.

“Objectively assessed,” Judge Willie said, Odendaal had repudiated the agreement, even though she “may not subjectively have intended to repudiate the agreement”.

In other words, her stomach had been bigger than her eyes. Judge Wille dismissed Odendaal’s application with costs. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jennifer D says:

    No sympathy – if you choose to live a life of luxury off an older, wealthy and clearly unethical man, you already have compromised your own integrity and self worth.

    • Brian Cotter says:

      Apply your logic to Paul Mashatile our current Deputy President, R500k from him a month was no problem to his favourite lady friend.

      • D'Esprit Dan says:

        They’re quite frankly cut from the same cloth – all of them. Plundering from ordinary South Africans to maintain lifestyles they’ve neither worked for nor deserve. Jooste is no better than a state capture bigwig and his (alleged) piece on the side is no better than the (alleged) pieces on the side that Mashatile allegedly kept in comfort using other people’s money.

        Reminds of Churchill’s retort to Lady Astor (I think) when he asked if she’d sleep with him for a million pounds. There was a qualified yes, so he asked if she’d sleep with him for one pound. She indignantly asked what kind of woman he thought she was, to which he responded “Madam, we’ve already established that; now it’s just a matter of establishing the price.”

  • Craig A says:

    Ag shame, it must have been tough living on a handout of R 150k per month (tax free). Maybe we can start a funding campaign for her horses’ upkeep?

  • Deon Botha-Richards says:

    One wonder how her lawyers managed to advise and represent her when the outcome was clearly not going to be beneficial. Shows a lack of knowledge of the law

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    You lie down with dogs…you end up with fleas! She’s just found this out now?

  • Gerrie Pretorius says:

    Markus Jooste is the real criminal here. He should have been jailed by now, but as usual, the rich always have more rights and legal standing than the rest of SAs people.

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