How SA model struck gold in the Seychelles
Publish date: 07 October 2019
Issue Number: 844
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri gifted South African bikini model Candice van der Merwe more than $16m after they met in the Seychelles in 2012. Van der Merwe has been involved in a drawn-out legal battle with the SA Revenue Service (SARS) over the ‘donation’. South African court documents obtained by The New York Times indicate that Hariri was not in office when he sent the money in 2013, and the transfer does not appear to have violated any Lebanese or SA laws. At the time, Van der Merwe didn’t disclose Hariri’s identity, and mentioned her benefactor’s assistant Mahomed Rawas was responsible for the donation. SARS believed the donation was money belonging to her father, businessman Gary van der Merwe, who had fought repeated court battles with the tax authorities, The New York Times reported. She settled her court case with SARS in 2016 when she agreed to pay R44m tax. However, she subsequently sued the National Treasury for R1bn for damage to her reputation, City Press reported. It was in those court papers that she revealed that Hariri gave her the money. A looming financial crisis in Lebanon has set off anti-government protests. Hariri last month said his government would declare an ‘economic state of emergency’ and push through austerity measures. Business Insider reports that Hariri’s father Rafik who also served as Prime Minister, was assassinated in Beirut in 2005.