ADRIAAN Van Vuuren, the former top racehorse owner accused of defrauding Telkom subsidiary Trudon of R500 million, may have fled the country. Or he may still be hiding somewhere in South Africa.
Van Vuuren’s estranged wife, Rika, is not entirely sure of his whereabouts. She told the Citizen that “rumour has it”, her husband left the country on 13 February, incidentally just hours before before court reporter Jeanne-Marie Versluis broke the tale of alleged lies and deceit on the News24 website.
Rika van Vuuren reckons that her husband may have fled to New Zealand and has pointed a finger at NZ-based Sonia Joubert, his alleged co-conspirator and director of the two close corporations allegedly used to defraud Trudon.
Rika said that “it appeared from court papers filed by Trudon that her husband had allegedly perpetuated fraud against it,” but could not say whether the allegations were true.
She also told The Citizen that she had tried to contact Van Vuuren a few times but that she, and his attorneys, had been unable to reach him. On 18 February, she said, Adriaan sent her an e-mail in which he said he was “sorry” and that he “will be moving very far away”.
In court papers, Rika claims that she had not been a party to her husband’s alleged shenanigans and that there was no love lost between them. She was in the process of divorcing him after years of emotional and physical abuse.
An order freezing the couple’s bank accounts, various business entities and family trusts – interdicting them from dealing with their vast assets – was extended by the court.
“Fraud in all industries should be rooted out. In this case the alleged perpetrator happened to own racehorses. The alleged fraud in this respect is a reflection of individual wrongdoing and has no bearing on racing,” said a high-ranked racing industry official on Wednesday.
Photo: Adriaan and Rika Van Vuuren.