Much to my dismay, I have been put into a compromising situation wherein I have now fallen victim to fraudulent activities conducted by one Mr. Ravi Naidoo, a financial advisor practicing as a Representative of Liberty Group Ltd, at EQ.FIN (apparently an affiliate of Liberty).
I have been unfortunate enough to make the acquaintance of this unscrupulous individual upon the death of my dad the late Mr. P. Nadasen. I would also like to make it known that my father was in the process of searching for a new financial advisor a few days prior to his death as he had informed me that he found Mr. Naidoo to be unprofessional, to say the least.
My first encounter with Mr. Naidoo was the morning of my father’s funeral on the 31/12/2017. He arrived on the property approximately an hour before the body could arrive. He furnished me with his business card and advised that we need to meet in order to put my late father’s affairs in order with regards to his funds invested with Stanlib.
I met with Mr. Naidoo a week later. During this meeting he advised that my father had left specific instructions detailing the fact that it was imperative for me to invest in a Retirement Annuity. He further advised that I would not be able to have direct access to any of the funds reason being that that was the manner in which my father had invested said funds of which I am designated beneficiary to and the funds would eventually deplete in time. The name of the fund was the Liberty Bold Living Annuity Investment. I was still wrought with grief at this moment as the death of my father was still fresh in my mind, so I did not question Mr. Naidoo as I would have if I was of sound judgement.
After much thought, I found it strange that my father would have specified that I need to engage a further Retirement Annuity, as he was well aware of the fact that I am already the holder of two Retirement Annuities. I began to question Mr. Naidoo, and requested that he furnishes me with proof, detailing my late father’s specified request/s as to how and where the funds should or perhaps should not, be invested. Mr. Naidoo promised to furnish me with documentation to this effect, however, he has failed to do so up until current date. I thereafter found it extremely difficult to get a hold of him telephonically. His assistant Evangeline Govender took numerous messages on the number 031 275 5000, within which I requested for Mr. Naidoo to return my calls, but, unfortunately, he failed to do so. I began suspecting foul play and withdrew the Retirement Annuity application he made me sign at the very first meeting I had with him a week after my father’s death, with the assistance of Evangeline.
I further liaised with Evangeline on numerous occasions requesting that they furnish me with documentation as to where and how the funds were invested. According to Evangeline they could not do so as yet as they were awaiting the verification of my being the “actual” beneficiary for my dad before Stanlib could provide them with any documentation. This raised a red flag because not only had I already furnished Mr. Naidoo with all of the documentation he required in order to prove that I was my dad’s beneficiary, but Mr. Naidoo had made me sign for the RA which I had cancelled!!
Something did not seem kosher, so I decided to contact Stanlib directly. After being in limbo at the call center for quite a while I managed to get a hold of an extremely helpful and understanding investor line agent by the name of Qaqamba Songelwa on 12/08/2018 at 14:25. I verified my identification with her telephonically and she provided me with some shocking information. She advised that I did have options: I could choose to withdraw the entire amount and have direct access to the funds, or re-invest in the Stanlib Classic Investment plan, CONTRARY to what Mr. Naidoo had advised!
I requested that Qaqamba puts my investment on hold up until I get back to her in a day or two as I decided to seek advice from another financial advisor. It now became clear that Mr. Naidoo was only interested in lining his OWN pockets and did not have my best financial interests at heart as he had initially promised.
I sought advice from a legal advisor at FMS. I was dumbstruck to discover that Qaqamba had been true to her word and I did have options. The realisation that Mr. Naidoo was trying to “lock” away my funds for as long as possible so as to maximise the amount of commission he would make in order to benefit his cashflow now dawned upon me!
The harassment from Evangeline then began. Evangeline began phoning me numerous times in a day. It seemed as though they knew that I was now engaging the services of another possible financial advisor. On 12/02/2018 she became rude on the telephone advising that:
- I am a tradesman working on the road and I should therefore stick to the road and let them do what they do best.
- She and Mr. Naidoo will ensure that I will never have direct access to the funds as they have contacts at Stanlib whom are willing to do their bidding.
- I “just inherited” this money, so I should shut my mouth and take what I could get.
- I do not have the right to engage the services of another financial advisor and I am stuck with them.
She further went on to say that I need to calm down and she is finding it difficult to deal with both myself and my brother. I advised her that she was the only one becoming irate over the phone and that I will no longer be liaising with her as she is extremely disrespectful and I cut the call. I met with the financial advisor from FMS(an affiliate of the Liberty Group) and signed the withdrawal form to have my entire amount deposited into my personal bank account.
The following day, 13/02/2018, I was contacted by another lady who claimed to be Mr. Naidoo’s other assistant. She instructed me to send them an email detailing as to why I bypassed them and contacted Stanlib directly and put my funds on hold. I advised her that I no longer require Mr. Naidoo’s services and that I had already engaged the services of another Liberty affiliated financial advisor to assist me going forward as this would be in my best interests. I thereafter phoned the Stanlib call center and advised Qaqamba that I wish to revoke Mr. Naidoo as my financial advisor, as I had already signed a form at FMS revoking him as my financial advisor, and that I will be using FMS in future but in the interim I wish to make a cash withdrawal of the full funds available to me. I advised her that I had already filled out a withdrawal form and that it had been submitted and if she could please confirm if they had received it. She checked on the system and confirmed that the form had been received that day.
Then began the foul play. Later that same day I was contacted by Qaqamba and advised that I now had to pay a 35% tax penalty on my withdrawal, as per a person by the name of Mike. This was not explained to me as per any of my prior conversations with Qaqamba. She had advised me previously that the money had already been taxed. I told her she is now being self-contradictory and she advised me that that was what she was instructed to advise me as per her management. I smelt a rat at that stage and I voiced out my disagreement with what she had just said. Nevertheless, I advised her that she needs to go ahead and do the necessary in order to complete my request for a full withdrawal of my funds as I now need to invest with someone who will not contradict themselves. I found this to be extremely unprofessional.
On 15/02/2018 I contacted the call centre and spoke to Qaqamba again to follow up on the progress of my application for a full withdrawal. She advised me that Mr. Naidoo had sent them an email instructing Stanlib to re-invest my funds as I had not given them any reason as to why I had put my investment on hold!!
I was flabbergasted! This now proved what Evangeline had said about them having contacts at Stanlib! Even though I AM THE CLIENT AND I HAD SUBMITTED THE WITHDRAWAL FORM and the financial advisor at FMS assured me that she deals directly with Liberty as well, Mr. Naidoo was still able to do as he wished with my money WITHOUT my permission!!!
I was then told by Qaqamba that the file had now been referred to Risk Management division and that someone would call me by 14:00 on 15/02/2018 and explain me as to what is currently transpiring with my request for a withdrawal and the process of the case. I waited the entire day for the call from Risk Management but never received it.
Today, 16/02/2018, I contacted the Stanlib call centre and requested to speak to a manager as I am now at my wits end. I was put through to a manager by the name of Sphamandla. He advised me that he would review my case and call me back. He called me back after 20 minutes and explained to me that after his reviewal of my file he came to the conclusion that it was an extremely difficult case to handle because of the chain of events that surrounds it and that Risk Management would contact me as soon as possible. He further advised that he would phone them(Risk Management) personally and request that they contact me telephonically with feedback today. I requested their direct line. He advised that I am not allowed to contact them directly, they will contact me. That was at 10:25, the time now is 18:42 and I have not received any such phone call up until now.
It seems to me a though a game of cat and mouse now commences. Why am I not being allowed access to my funds? Do I not have any rights to exercise as to how and where I choose to invest my funds? Is Mr. Naidoo SO well connected in the hierarchy of the Stanlib framework that he is able to lock away my funds, WITHOUT MY PERMISSION, for as long as he wants to in order to gain the most possible commission to maintain HIS lifestyle? Is this what my late dad had worked so hard for? For Mr. Naidoo to live comfortably off of his sweat?
This is totally unacceptable. I am now being forced to seek legal advice and hold EQ.FIN responsible with regards to vicarious liabilities stemming from Mr. Naidoo’s(and Evangeline’s) actions. I will also be taking legal action against Stanlib for not adhering to my wishes, as the client, as THEIR primary source of income as well, IF this matter is not resolved within seven days.