Christo Wiese Authorized to Reclaim Wine Estate Through Lawsuit
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Billionaires - June 13, 2023

Christo Wiese Authorized to Reclaim Wine Estate Through Lawsuit

Christo Wiese, South African billionaire was given the go-ahead by the Western Cape High Court has granted South African billionaire Christo to proceed with his legal action against his former colleague Markus Jooste. Wiese’s objective is to reclaim ownership of the esteemed Lanzerac wine estate.

After an almost two-year wait, the recent authorization from the Western Cape High Court allows South African billionaire Christo Wiese to pursue his legal battle against disgraced tycoon Markus Jooste. Wiese’s primary goal is to regain possession of the prestigious Lanzerac wine estate in Stellenbosch, or alternatively, obtain its equivalent monetary value.

The origins of the Lanzerac wine estate dispute trace back to 2012 when Christo Wiese sold the historic property to a foreign consortium in exchange for approximately R220 million ($11 million) worth of Steinhoff shares. Unfortunately, the value of these shares has drastically declined over time, plummeting to less than $40,000 at present. This significant loss has compelled Wiese to take legal measures in response.

Following his short-lived collaboration with Markus Jooste at Steinhoff International Holdings, Wiese is now advocating for the court to invalidate the contract and reinstate his ownership of the Lanzerac wine estate. 

As an alternative, he is requesting compensation from Markus Jooste and Lanzerac Estate Investments that corresponds to the current value of the estate. To facilitate this, Wiese is willing to return the Steinhoff shares he initially received as payment.

Wiese asserts that during the 2011 transaction, Jooste initially presented himself as a representative of a consortium comprising external investors. However, it has since come to light that Jooste was involved in the deal from its very inception. 

Furthermore, Wiese makes additional claims, alleging that Jooste had prior knowledge of the fraudulent manipulation of Steinhoff’s financial records during the negotiation process.

During the lawsuit, Judge Ashley Binns-Ward of the Western Cape High Court rejected three arguments presented by the defendants in an attempt to dismiss the case. 

The first argument asserted that Wiese couldn’t cancel the sale contract based on its terms. However, the judge disagreed, emphasizing that any contract tainted by fraud can be canceled by either party involved.

The second argument contested the reversal of the sale on the grounds of the diminished value of Steinhoff’s shares. However, Binns-Ward deemed this argument unpersuasive, ruling that Wiese could indeed return shares of the same class in Steinhoff. 

Additionally, the judge dismissed the third exception, noting that Wiese had not included Aussenkjer Boerdery, one of the parties involved in the sale, in the lawsuit.

Following the court’s decision to proceed with the trial, both Wiese and Jooste will now confront the hurdle presented by the attachment of Lanzerac by the SA Reserve Bank in its separate case against Jooste, which occurred last year.

While the specific trial date is yet to be determined, this lawsuit represents a significant milestone in Christo Wiese’s endeavor to reclaim ownership of the iconic Lanzerac wine estate and seek redress for the purported fraudulent activities associated with the transaction.

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