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Levick pays back fleeced elderly couple, but it’s not all

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Sequestrated businessman Martin Levick has paid back most of the money he took from an elderly couple after he promised to invest their life savings and left them destitute.

Levick, whose family were close friends of Peter Michels, 80, and his wife, Cheryl, 74, allegedly left them penniless after convincing them to hand over their money to him to invest. The couple, once well off, were forced to rely on food parcels from Yad Aharon & Michael, and money from the Chevrah Kadisha after allegedly investing their hard-earned life savings with Levick.

According to the Beth Din, which became involved in the messy affair last year after being approached by the Michels and Levick for assistance in sorting out the matter, the money has been paid back.

Levick, the former chief executive of investment house Genesis Capital, which is under business rescue, and former non-executive director of Genesis Capital Partners (renamed Calculus), was sequestrated in June 2019. He was previously accused of fleecing investors and former colleagues and friends of hundreds of millions of rand.

After months of fruitless attempts to try get their money back, the Michels turned to the Beth Din, the rabbinical court, for assistance. A settlement agreement was drawn up on 2 December 2021, which Levick failed to honour timeously.

This led to the Beth Din granting permission to the Michels to pursue criminal and civil proceedings against Levick after he failed on numerous occasions to abide by the settlement agreement to pay back the money. It’s rare for the Beth Din to do this, but it did so as a last resort when Levick continued to obfuscate and dodge holding up his end of the agreement.

The SA Jewish Report reported in May this year how Levick had allegedly persuaded the Michels to invest their money with him with promises of large returns. After doing so, the Michels were left high and dry.

The article went viral. Pressure increased from all sides, including from the couple’s attorney, Jeffrey Afriat, the director of Edelstein Farber Grobler Incorporated, who instituted criminal and civil proceedings. Add to that the pressure from the Beth Din, and Levick paid back most of the money in June.

The Beth Din sent Levick a letter giving him until 30 June to pay back the money in full or risk all rabbonim being alerted to deny Levick future aliyas. This is the honour bestowed upon a congregant when called to the bimah to read a segment of the Torah.

Within a few weeks of the publication of the SA Jewish Report article and legal letters to the trustees of Levick’s insolvent estate, as well as to banks, Levick settled most of the money owed.

Though Levick’s attorneys say he has settled the amount in full, the Michels’ attorneys claim that there’s still money owing.

Afriat confirmed that “the majority of the capital amount in terms of the settlement agreement before the Beth Din was received by the Michels, however we will be proceeding to claim the outstanding balance and interest. A criminal complaint of fraud, forgery, and uttering was reported during June 2022 against Levick and his mother, which investigation is currently underway.”

In October 2020, the Michels contacted Levick, whom they had known since he was a child, for advice about a potential business venture. “I also trusted Martin in light of the close relationship which my family shared with his over the past 30 years or so,” said Cheryl.

Levick allegedly advised the Michels rather to invest with him in his mother, Lois Cherie Levick’s, loan business because it would get them a better return, according to the Michels.

The Michels allegedly invested their entire nest egg with Levick over the space of a year.

Levick allegedly conducted transactions on his mother’s bank account which he wasn’t entitled to do as an insolvent. He was aware that he was forbidden from entering any agreements as an insolvent without the permission of the trustees of his insolvent estate.

Though the Michels are relieved to have received a substantial amount back, the stress and aggravation of months of trying to get their money back has taken its toll.

Peter Michels was this week again admitted to hospital suffering heart problems, a condition which the family believes has been exacerbated by the stress experienced ever since they entrusted Levick with their hard-earned life savings.

Attorneys are busy with litigation arising out of Levick’s alleged fraudulent conduct during his tenure as chief executive of Genesis Capital.

Levick didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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