Spar executives accused of fraud

Three Spar executives are accused of fraud caused by misrepresentations and non-disclosures made in two of the country’s High Courts.

This accusation forms part of Afriforum private prosecution’s criminal complaints of fraud and perjury against the Spar executives in Gauteng. Further complaints will be filed in KwaZulu-Natal.

Afriforum’s private prosecution is helping Chris and Harry Giannacopoulos and their family’s group of companies, Giannacopoulos Group, with their case against Spar.

It is alleged that the Spar Group, through its executives, falsely claimed in affidavits in 2019 that companies in the Giannacopoulos Group owed it money.

It was done to convince the courts to grant the Spar Group control over the supermarkets owned by the companies.

These alleged misrepresentations were confirmed by the same High Courts when the Giannacopoulos Group successfully challenged the unlawful takeover bid.

Two implicated parties who filed affidavits in the financial matters in 2019 are Spar’s managing director Desmond Borrageiro and chief executive Brett Botten.

The chairperson of the Spar Group, Graham O’Conner, signed certificates of balance in support of summonses.

The alleged misrepresentations – attributed to ignorance by their legal team – have been admitted by some suspects and described as an ‘honest and unfortunate mistake.’

More executives will be implicated when another case is filed in KwaZulu-Natal, Afriforum said.

In the court applications filed in Pretoria and Pietermaritzburg in 2019, the Giannacopoulos Group alleged that the Spar Group:

  • Failed to disclose to the court that the Giannacopoulos Group’s retailer membership had been terminated without giving them a hearing as had been promised by the Spar Group.
  • Made false statements about development loans, indicating that the Giannacopoulos Group of companies was indebted to the Spar Group.

These alleged misrepresentations were repeated in summonses issued against companies in the Giannacopoulos Group.

Acting on orders obtained from the courts and based on the alleged misrepresentations, the Spar Group took steps to take over the stores in 2019.

Only after a successful urgent court application by the Giannacopoulos Group were the businesses returned to their control.

These facts form the basis for the criminal complaints filed with the police in Pretoria on 8 December 2022. The complaints will also be filed in Pietermaritzburg in the coming weeks.

Daily Investor asked the Spar Group for comment, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.