Pretorius’s close friend in shock
03 August 2012 | JULIUS COBBETT
This almost beggars belief because Herman Pretorius’s investment scheme had none of the checks and balances that apply to credible investments.
Michal Calitz, a fund manager and director at 4i, is, however, more than just an investor. He was one of Pretorius’s closest friends.
A rare public photo of Pretorius shows him posing with his two sons and Calitz on the golf course. They went to the same bible study group, which met every second Friday.
As an investment professional, Calitz should have been more aware than anyone of the abundant warning signs attached to Pretorius’s unregulated scheme, the Relative Value Arbitrage Fund (RVAF).
Pretorius was not licensed with the Financial Services Board. There was no third party verification of returns. Investor statements were basic in the extreme. The fund did not prepare financial statements and it was not audited.
In contrast, Calitz’s 4i Opportunity Fund, which has R350m under management, has passed all necessary regulatory requirements.
But Calitz is not yet convinced that the RVAF operated entirely without supervision. He claims to have spoken to an employee of Maitland Fund Administrators, who confirmed that that the firm does administration for “Abante”. Abante is a name associated with Herman Pretorius.
However, a Maitland spokesman emphatically denies that her firm provides administration services to “Abante” or the RVAF.
It has been alleged that Calitz advised clients to invest with Pretorius. One reader informed this reporter that a close friend had invested his life savings with Pretorius’s RVAF on Calitz’s advice.
Calitz does not deny the fact that he “had investors with Pretorius”. Says Calitz: “As a financial adviser you are asked about alternative investments and one of the alternatives are hedge funds.
There is information about it in the South African Financial Planning Handbook and when asked I said that I know a hedge fund. I would make an appointment with (Abante) and the first presentation was actually delivered by Julian Williams himself.” Williams was Pretorius’s former business partner.
Calitz continues: “In the presentation they would discuss the risk and control and how they do the necessary trading (pair trading).
Afterwards we also had the opportunity to visit the trading desk where Heinrich Muller and his team were trading when they were still in the Tyger Valley offices.”
Heinrich Muller is a director of legitimate hedge fund company Polus Capital. Polus recently closed its doors after losing its biggest client, Momentum. Muller has confirmed that Polus Capital does not hold any funds on behalf of the RVAF Trust.
Calitz was emotional when contacted by CitiBusiness.
He says he knew Pretorius to be a well-informed and a good man.
Certainly not the type to commit fraud or murder. Last week Thursday, Pretorius allegedly shot his former business partner before turning the gun on himself.
It later emerged that his investment scheme was insolvent.
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