Five years after concerns were raised about Cobus Kellermann’s involvement in the so-called ‘Belvedere Group’, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) has announced that its investigations into companies linked to Kellermann have uncovered no illegal activity.
“During 2014, the FSCA’s predecessor, the Financial Services Board (FSB), provided assistance to certain foreign regulators relating to funds that were allegedly channeled to several entities in South Africa,” the regulator noted in a press release on Wednesday.
“It became apparent that Mr Kellermann was a person of interest in the matter. The FSB’s inspection therefore sought to establish whether Mr Kellermann was involved with any South African Financial Services Providers (FSPs), and whether the funds of any South African clients were invested in the foreign entities that were mentioned in media reports on the matter.”
The FSB’s investigations covered six local companies – RSA Multi Asset Management, Government Investments SA, Pensionation Investments SA, Multivest Financial Planning, Contego Asset Management, and Clarus Asset Management.
“The inspection found no evidence of any breaches of the relevant South African financial sector laws,” the FSCA said.
The local regulator’s announcement comes more than two years after the financial services regulator in Guernsey, which is where many of the allegations originated, ended its investigation into Kellermann and companies linked to him and David Cosgrove. The Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC) took no action against either individual.
This too was reiterated by the FSCA.
“Neither the FSB nor the FSCA has been advised of any regulatory action having been taken against Mr. Kellermann by any foreign regulator,” it stated.
Responding to the FSCA’s press release, Kellermann told Moneyweb that he’s thankful that at least it provided some sort of conclusion to the matter in South Africa, after he faced years of suspicion.
“At least I can carry on with my life,” Kellermann said. “It doesn’t make anything right, but at least it draws a line in the sand.”
Kellermann however remains concerned that while the FSCA’s statement is definitive about his status in South Africa, he has not received the same level of cooperation from the regulators in Guernsey and Mauritius.
He and Cosgrove have been involved in an extensive legal battle with the GFSC to try to gain sight of the decision by an independent counsel that led to the closure of their investigation. So far, the Guernsey regulator has refused to release it.
“We are now asking for a judicial review, so that the whole process is taken out of the hands of the GFSC and run by the courts to see what went right or what went wrong,” said Kellermann. “We believe that regulation and legislation have not been followed.”
In Mauritius, they have also been unable to get sight of the report produced by PwC, which investigated the ‘Belvedere’ businesses. The Financial Services Commission in Mauritius has denied access to it.
In 2016 Cosgrove was disqualified from holding any position in the financial services industry in Mauritius for five years. He was however never granted a hearing to state his case before this action was taken, and continues to fight it in court.