The South African High Court has issued a damning judgment saying Huka Lodge owner Alex van Heeren made deliberate misrepresentations to his former business partner Michael Kidd inducing him to sign away his rights to a share in worldwide assets claimed to be worth $US25million – $US30 million.
Judge Kathy Satchwell has declared void the January 18, 1991 indemnity agreement the pair signed when they came to a “parting of the ways” , opening the door to the resumption of High Court proceedings in Auckland.
Van Heeren is still listed on his own website as New Zealand’s honorary consul to the Netherlands. But his name does not appear on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.
Judge Satchwell observed the pair concluded two contracts in Randburg, South Africa: One for the sale of a shareholding in certain companies by Van Heeren to Kidd, and, another indemnity in respect of claims by Kidd against Van Heeren in any companies in which the latter had an interest anywhere in the world.
The judge said she was satisfied that Van Heeren had taken advantage of Kidd – ” in Kidd’s trust in his partner, in Kidd’s fifteen years reliance upon the financial acumen of his partner.”
“I am satisfied that Van Heeren saw that he could indeed snatch a bargain from Kidd at the time that the South African companies and the residence were resolved.
“It was a tremendous bargain to purport to resolve the South African companies and the Bristol residence and, at the same time, ensure that Kidd abandoned all claims to Prime, Genan, Worldwide Leisure, Fenton, Optech, bank accounts, gold certificates and bars, acquamarines, and whatever other investments had been procured through the Wellesley funds.
“I find that Kidd was unaware that the indemnity was not limited in the manner which he has reasonably assumed it to be. I find that Van Heeren failed to disclose to Kidd that the indemnity document contained provisions which rendered the indemnity unlimited contrary to Kidd’s reasonable assumption that it was so limited.”
There was plenty more in this vein.
Van Heeren did not give evidence.
Justice Robert Smellie in the High Court at Auckland stayed Kidd’s action until the South African courts had ruled on a disputed indemnity document covering the split of their business ventures.