More drama for Gandhi’s great-granddaughter

iol news dec 29 wooden gavel INDEPENDENT MEDIA File picture

Durban - The Durban businessman who laid a R6.2 million fraud charge against Ashish Ramgobin, the great-granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, has been taken to court by the joint liquidators of Ramgobin’s company.

A high court order was granted, on Monday, against the businessman and his companies, interdicting him from removing and selling the linen in containers shipped from India that were intended to supply a private hospital group.

Ramgobin’s company, Global Services, is under voluntary liquidation and the joint liquidators brought an urgent application against, among others, the businessman and his companies to recover these containers.

The liquidators claim in court papers that this businessman is among many other creditors who loaned Ramgobin money or are owed large sums, some in excess of R8 million. They also said one creditor cannot be favoured over the other and argued that the linen is the only other asset Global Services has, save for a “negligible amount” of about R107 000 in its bank account.

According to insolvency practitioner and liquidator, Ranjith Choonilall’s affidavit, filed on behalf of the three joint provisional liquidators of South Africa Pty Ltd, which traded as Global Services, Ramgobin’s company was placed in provisional liquidation in December.

In his court papers, he explained Ramgobin – the daughter of Gandhi’s granddaughter Ela Gandhi and treason triallist and ANC stalwart Mewa Ramgobin – was a frequent traveller to India and had established various relationships with business entities there to import goods to South Africa.

She provided samples from India of bedsheets and pillows to a private hospital group which then apparently indicated it required a minimum order of 100 000 bedsheets and 50 000 pillow cases to be delivered no later than June or July 2015. Choonilall said there was no written agreement, but Ramgobin was apparently “convinced” she would confirm a written order by the time the goods arrived from India.

Her company was required to pay the Indian manufacturer R6.2m to buy the material required for the linen production as well as costs of clearing, shipping and forwarding and customs duties payable to Sars.

Choonilall said the company did not have the money and obtained a R6.2m loan from the Durban businessman with an undertaking he would receive R1.5m share of the profits from the hospital deal, apparently worth just over R20m.

The containers arrived, he said, in June/July but the hospital group did not confirm the order and the deal did not go ahead. “This crippled the company financially, eventually leading to it being placed into voluntary liquidation,” read Choonilall’s affidavit.

He said when the deal did not materialise, this led to the businessman formally complaining to the police and Ramgobin being arrested on a R6.2m fraud charge.

It is alleged, the businessman said he would not oppose bail, should Ramgobin sign over these goods, in three containers, to him.

While in police custody, Ramgobin apparently signed hand-written documents with the belief the charges would be withdrawn after her release on bail.

The complaint was not withdrawn. Ramgobin appeared briefly in the Durban Commercial Crime Court last week and the case was adjourned until April.

noelene.barbeau@inl.co.za

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