This article has been modified following a response from Michael Harris.
Michael Harris has become one of UnCensored’s prolific commentators. His fight with FirstRand dates back decades and remains fascinating today as it must have then.
According to Noseweek, his is a battle which started with a successful legal case against ABSA for overcharging interest and led to a prolonged feud that saw the “Rupert gang” get their own back when they bought First National Bank from Barclays.
There’s another version which says the battle may have stemmed from envy by a lesser successful family member.
Harris has literally seen it all. He has lived the lavish life of planes, being a property mogul, spending time in prison and being acquitted of an attempted murder charge, and living a meagre life in a one-bedroomed home in Westdene, according to the Noseweek report.
Harris says of the planes: “Yes – ages ago – a ‘glider’ with a Volkswagen engine that cost less than R 4,000-00; a small Cesner that was leased by Mazlen for a short time so that I could fly to Kwa-Zulu Natal to attend at 2 farms and property development owned by Mazlen”.
He says he was never a property mogul – owns nothing: “I own nothing at all. I am not a Benificiary of the trust; I just administer the trust – have done so since formation of the trust for the past 45 years – since 1971 when I formed the trust. The trust was set up by an Advocate who was also an Accountant. The Beneficiaries of the trust are my Children and my one Grandson – up to a limited specified amount. Thereafter the trust is to be used for charity work”…
He has lost a son from a hijacking, turned to God, was sequestrated, fraudulently he says, and managed to get back over R3million from FNB.
News of the settlement was a good story that would be short-lived.
On his website, Harris, suggests the bank reneged on one of the terms of the “settlement” and he cancelled the agreement in 2009. “We accepted just R 3 million plus R 200,000-00 and the property because we were promised the funding/sponsorship by “GT” (Ferreia) and by Mr Bruce Unser. It is just the quantum of the funding/sponsorship that we were waiting to hear about. They kept asking us to be patient and to “indulge” them,” Harris says on the site.
Here’s the settlement: http://www.meharris.co.za/images/otherdocuments/settlementagreement.jpg
“The 1st ‘part’ of the Settlement Agreement 19/11/07: FirstRand Group were to pay R 3 million to The Mazlen Trust. They did pay the R 3 million. Praise the GOOD Lord. The 2nd ‘part’ of the Settlement Agreement 19/11/07: They would pay a further R 200,000-00 for the acquisition of a building which they had robbed us of way back in 1999. They were to assist us to take transfer of this property which was ‘dead and buried’ in the Estate of Mazlen Holdings (Pty) Ltd, which was a company I formed in 1971 and which they Liquidated in 1998, by way of Fraud, Theft and Bad Business Practices. The R 200,000-00 has been paid. Praise the GOOD Lord. It sits in the bank. We are now still struggling to get the co-operation that they promised us so that transfer will finally pass to The Mazlen Trust – 10 years after we paid in full for the property. We also, 10 years ago, paid the transfer costs and lawyers fees.
“The third ‘part’ of the Settlement Agreement 19/11/07: They agreed to look at financing/sponsoring an anti-crime and rehabilitation campaign which I discussed with “GT” on the 7/11/07 and which he gave me his word that they would support. I have my notes that I made at the meeting with “GT” on the 7/11/07 and I have my notes which I made when I met with Mr Bruce Unser and Ms Sam Moss before I signed their Settlement Agreement on the 19/11/07″.
The article By Noseweek written almost ten years ago asked if Harris is a man who can let bygones be bygones. “Hardly,” it said then. That answer still applies today.
Here are some of the articles written on the matter http://www.meharris.co.za/media.htm