Ash Davenport, a 63 year-old ostrich farmer from outside Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, may be about to make history in his effort to stave off attempts by Standard Bank to take possession of his 3,260ha farm over a R3 million loan he took out seven years ago.
Last week he threw the Grahamstown High Court into a spin when his attorney, Bev Carruthers of Port Elizabeth, plonked a securitisation audit in front of the judge. The securitisation audit suggests that his bank loan has been on-sold to a Taiwanese bank and is no longer owned by Standard Bank. That being the case, Standard Bank has no right to be in court. More than that, the audit suggests the bank has securitised (or on-sold) his bond for R5 million, not the R3 million he supposedly signed for.
The court reserved judgment as to whether to allow the audit to be presented as new evidence in a case that has been dragging on for close to seven years.
“I intend to fight this all the way,” says Davenport. “These banks have been getting away with this nonsense for too long. I had to pay R17,000 for the audit but it was worth it, since it provides proof that the bank has in fact been securitising mortgage loans and then coming after property owners when they have no right to.”
Securitisation audits are a new development in South Africa, but are common in the US. They effectively carry the same weight as a financial opinion by a company’s auditor, though the banks are trying to dismiss them as hearsay.