Former money manager Cobus Kellermann is fighting to clean up his reputation after a series of media reports – sparked by investigations into his conduct while running the so-called Belvedere group of companies — have put paid to any hope of him working in the industry.

Kellermann is seeking to summons BizNews publisher Alec Hogg for a lengthy list of defamatory statements made during 2015, where Hogg repeated allegations first made on the OffshoreAlert website by journalist David Marchant, which alleged Belvedere was a US$16bn Ponzi scheme stretching from Mauritius to the Cayman Islands.

The reports even attracted the attention of the professional conduct programme of the CFA Institute, the professional body which oversees the chartered financial analyst designation.

"Mr Hogg has no intention of co-operating and [owning] up to his defamatory and insulting articles," says Kellermann.

Alec Hogg. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN
Alec Hogg. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN

"He ruined my career, my reputation, my family, my balance sheet ... my life. But he is too much of a coward to face the consequences."

According to correspondence seen by the Financial Mail,
Kellermann’s attorneys have been unsuccessful in obtaining a retraction of the defamatory statements from Hogg, which they first requested at the end of March 2015.

The first article on Kellermann, titled "Belvedere Ponzi Scandal: Who is Cobus Kellermann?" appeared on the BizNews website on March 22 that year. In it, BizNews picked up on Marchant’s earlier exposé of alleged fraud at Belvedere, which he called "one of the biggest criminal financial enterprises in history".

Hogg says his news outlet receives legal threats from time
to time.

"Our approach is to let our lawyers handle all such threats and to let the law take its course."

Kellermann blames the Marchant exposé for sparking an investigation in Mauritius of the funds managed by RDL Management — Belvedere’s investment management arm which Kellermann was said to jointly own with David Cosgrove.

In October 2014, the Mauritian Financial Services Commission revoked the licences of two of Belvedere’s investment funds – Lancelot Global and Four Elements — saying they’d requested remedial action and barred the funds from accepting new investors until they complied.

Then, in January 2015, the commission revoked Lancelot and Four Elements’ licences after further inspections.

In his summons to BizNews, Kellermann says many of the Mauritian regulator’s decisions were overturned.

Still, the Mauritian investigation had a domino effect on other jurisdictions in which the Belvedere funds operated.

In Guernsey, regulators applied to court in April 2015 to place certain funds under administration. Since then, the Guernsey Financial Services Commission says it has dropped enforcement proceedings against the Belvedere funds and will not be taking any further action. It did not respond to questions from the Financial Mail on what this meant for the funds' licences. 

In SA, where the Financial Services Board assisted the Mauritian and Guernsey authorities, no local investors were affected, and Kellermann is no longer affiliated with any registered financial services providers.

The CFA Institute recently closed an investigation into Kellermann without imposing sanctions. However, the institute’s records show his CFA designation was suspended in 2016 after he failed to complete the professional conduct statement and pay annual membership dues.

The Financial Mail has seen correspondence from CFA head Paul Smith, saying Kellermann may reactivate his membership at any time — but this would hinge on his past conduct.

"Multiple regulators have investigated Kellermann and in every case have closed their investigation with no action against him," Smith says in the correspondence. "We have also not received a single complaint from any of Kellermann’s clients."time to time. 

Hogg says his news outlet receives various legal threats from time. “The most recent of these were from the Guptas and Iqbal Surve,” he says. 

* Article updated to show that the Guernsey Financial Services Commission dropped enforcement proceedings against the Belvedere funds and said they would not be taking any further action.  It did not respond to questions from the Financial Mail on what this meant for the funds’ licences. This was edited out for length in the print version.

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