South African sports stars under fire for promoting questionable investment scheme

South African sporting heroes Victor Matfield, Herschelle Gibbs, and Lucas Radebe are under fire for helping to market an investment scheme against which financial sector authorities have warned investors. 

City Press reported that Gold Standard Partners (GS Partners) hired former Protea Gibbs, former Springbok Matfield, and former Bafana Bafana player Radebe as ambassadors. 

Gibbs said his partnership with the company has come to an end. Matfield said, “We only marketed their events so that people would come and listen.” 

GS Partners markets itself as an international platform which provides financial services and reward programmes. These allow customers to earn returns on investments and receive referral bonuses.

South Africa’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) and other international financial regulators have warned investors against investing with GS Partners. 

In November last year, the FSCA issued a press statement warning the public against investing with GS Partners. 

The company offered investors returns of up to 22% per week if they purchased “unique certificates”, called MetaCertificates.

“It has come to the attention of the FSCA that GS Partners, also known as GSP or Gold Standard Partners (GS Partners), are soliciting investments in South Africa,” the FSCA stated.

“GS Partners is not licensed under any financial sector law to provide financial products or financial services in South Africa.”

For a company to offer financial services or products in South Africa, it has to be granted approval by the FSCA. 

“The FSCA wishes to inform the public that several foreign jurisdictions have published warnings relating to GS Partners,” the statement continued. 

The regulator said it is concerned about the “unrealistic returns offered by GS Partners and is conducting a preliminary investigation into its activities in South Africa.”

Lucas Radebe

The FSCA’s warning comes years after several individuals raised the alarm about Gold Standard Bank (GSB), G999, and GS Partners. Many were met with lawsuits.

In a 2021 summons, GSB owner and German millionaire Josip Heit, Tony De Gouveia, Bruce Hughes, Andrew Eaton, and Brendon Earp-Jones sued three South Africans for defamation and loss of income, MyBroadband reported. 

The three defendants – Louis Nel, Francois Harris, and Gareth Grobler – had a YouTube channel called G-Crypt, on which they discussed various crypto and blockchain-related topics.

Heit, De Gouveia, Hughes, Eaton, and Earp-Jones took issue with seven specific videos on the G-Crypt channel, titled:

  • Is G999 or “Gold Standard Business” a scam? | Part 1 (published Feb 6th, 2021)
  • Is G999 or “Gold Standard Business” a scam? | Part 2 (published Feb 12th, 2021)
  • Is G999 or “Gold Standard Business” a scam? | Part 3 (published Feb 23rd, 2021)
  • Is G999 or “Gold Standard Business” a scam? | Part 4 (published Mar 2nd, 2021)
  • G-Crypt Live | The one about the G999 takedown (published Feb 8th, 2021)
  • Crypto News Review with BitcoinZAR | South Africa Week 9 (published Mar 3rd, 2021)
  • G999 Intro Video Review Part 2 (published Feb 27th, 2021)

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that it was destroying their income. Each of the offending videos got between 800 and 2,800 views.

Across the six plaintiffs, including GSB, they claimed damages against Nel, Harris, and Grobler to the tune of R476.3 million. They also claimed interest.

Nel, Harris, and Grobler filed a counter-claim to have GS Partners declared an illegal scheme. According to one of the defendants, they seemed to back off after that.

City Press’ sister publication Rapport approached Eaton for comment on the fact that GS Partners was not licensed to offer financial products or services in this country.

The publication said he responded by saying the enquiry had been sent to the wrong individual.

Eaton pointed out that he had not been mentioned in the FSCA’s statement and had not yet been contacted in connection with any investigation.

He added that no official findings had been made against GS Partners and that the authority’s warnings had been made in preliminary statements.