||19 October 2008 07:00
|Show: ||Carte Blanche|
In 2001 Carte Blanche did a story featuring Pretoria businessman Enrico Bernert who paid for the rights to manufacture the light and affordable all-terrain "Rotrax El Macho" vehicle in South Africa.
He fine-tuned it for difficult desert terrain and began marketing it in the Middle East. His demo model caught the attention of a sheik with a passion for cars - Sheik Fawaz, a member of the ruling party in Bahrain. He wanted to manufacture the vehicle in Dubai, but Enrico was adamant he wanted it should stay in South Africa. So they did a deal, which was structured so that the sheik would invest US$6-million at a South African bank and Rotrax would use the interest to build the manufacturing plant.
The sheik insisted on a guarantee from the bank, and ABSA issued a letter stating that it would guarantee a fixed deposit - a 100% guarantee. But ABSA reneged on the deal, saying the bank manager concerned hadn't had the authority to sign the documents, resulting in the sheik losing favour in the deal.
Pretoria High Court Judge Natvarial Ranchod on Tuesday ordered Absa to pay Pretoria businessman Rico Bernert R187-million in damages as a result of bank's "misstatement and its eminently foreseeable consequence", according to Business Report, though the bank has denied this, saying 'damages still need to be determined'.
The newspaper also mentioned that during nine years of legal battles, that only Business Report and Carte Blanche had reported on the case.
Absa may still seek to appeal the judgement.
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