Deal-maker denies he's a scamster
Andrew Golding

Businessman John Charles Mackay has denied he is a con artist, saying the collapse of deals worth more than R1-billion had caused him nothing but embarrassment and ruin.

Pam Golding Properties chief executive Andrew Golding and executive director Jacob van Niekerk launched legal action against their former schoolmate in the Cape High Court after a joint venture to bring the US coffee chain Starbucks to Southern Africa fell through.

Mackay said while he had misrepresented Starbucks' level of interest in the deal, he had never claimed to represent it.

He said his efforts to secure Southern African locations for Starbucks coincided with the firm's downsizing.

"I was convinced I would be able to grow Starbucks' interest and had received an e-mail from them to that effect when all this blew up,'' he said.

Mackay had also claimed to be putting together a $300-million (R3-billion) deal to refinance the assets of US property firm Crescendo Group. "He said he was looking for an experienced real estate find distressed real estate in the US due to the credit crunch," said a source from Crescendo.

Mackay, 46, was paid $250 000 (R2,5-million) as a fee deposit, but later claimed he spent significantly more than that just trying to establish the fund. He told the Crescendo Group he could refinance their assets through an "opportunity fund" he was trying to establish through a Middle Eastern contact.

He opened a bank account with Nedbank subsidiary BoE Private Clients in Cape Town.

Mackay advised Crescendo to invest the recapitalisation funds with BoE at 12 percent interest to offset costs. He told BoE he would deposit $100-million into its cash management programme.

An allegedly fake bank letter on a BoE letterhead, stating there was $100m in Mackay's company account, was sent to the Crescendo Group, dated June 20. But Crescendo was suspicious and on September 10 e-mailed the letter to BoE South Africa, which promptly revealed the "apparent fraud".

Despite the BoE account having no credit facility, Mackay was able to rack up a debit of nearly R500 000 before the bank demanded payment and began bouncing his cheques.

Mackay said he was not trying to swindle anybody, and that he did not benefit from the deals. "The fake letter from BoE was addressed to me and I willingly shared it with all attorneys and parties involved."

  • This article was originally published on page 7 of Tribune on November 02, 2008

Article by: By Alison Bevege -