PwC helped Herman Pretorius sell his R1.8 billion fund
20 August 2012 | JULIUS COBBETT
Before his death Pretorius had been operating an unorthodox investment scheme called the Abante Relative Value Arbitrage Fund (RVAF).
This fund, which took the form of a trust, was provisionally sequestrated by the Western Cape High Court on August 1.
The fund is believed to owe R1.8 billion to 3 000 investors.
A number of readers have contacted CitiBusiness claiming that PwC was involved in marketing and recommending Pretorius’s fund. One reader wrote:
“What about all the auditing firms that recommended their clients to invest in Abante, for example PwC in Robertson?”
Another reader asked me to take PwC to task for organising meetings in Robertson where Pretorius would promote his investments to clients.
Robertson is one of several towns where Pretorius’s investment schemes were peddled to investors.
We asked Fulvio Tonelli, PwC’s risk partner, to comment on the allegations. He replied: “Whilst it is correct that PwC facilitated some five meetings in Robertson in the years 2003 to 2011, the firm denies any involvement in recommending that any of its clients invest in any of the operations managed by Herman Pretorius.
“The Robertson office has also facilitated meetings for other investment advisors at their request.
The individuals attending these meetings were both clients and non clients of the firm.
The firm has also not received any fees for this facilitation and all costs relative to these meetings have been borne by the relevant investment advisor hosting the event.”
Herman Pretorius allowed his Financial Service Board licence to lapse in 2008. This means PwC facilitated meetings for Pretorius when he was no longer an authorised financial services provider.
Further questions were posed to Tonelli:
Is it normal for PwC to facilitate these types of meetings?
What was PwC's financial motive for facilitating the meetings if it did not receive payment?
Was any commission earned by PwC or its employees resulting from investments made into Pretorius's various schemes?
Which other investment advisers did PwC facilitate meetings for?
Did PwC regard Herman Pretorius as an “investment adviser”? If yes, did it check whether he was FSB registered?
Does PwC conduct any due diligence on the advisers for whom it facilitates meetings?
Did PwC facilitate meetings for Herman Pretorius in any other towns besides Robertson?
How many such meetings does PwC facilitate each year, on average?
Tonelli responded: “I have nothing further to add to the response sent to you earlier as I believe some of your new questions have already been answered.”
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