Pretoria – Mark Krok, billionaire heir to an apartheid-era skin-lightening company, will be about R228m poorer if the SA Revenue Service (Sars) and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) have their way.
The Sunday Times reported that Sars, on behalf of the ATO, is seeking an order to ring-fence Krok’s local assets – including a R37.5m mansion in Clifton, Cape Town, as well as vast chunks of pharmaceutical company Aspen and casino company Tsogo Sun.
In 2006, Australia kicked off Operation Wickenby, targeting high-profile tax evaders – and their lawyers and accountants – who have set up shell companies and trusts in tax havens to evade the Australian tax office. Maxim Krok, Mark’s estranged half-brother, has also come under the spotlight. In 2010, the ATO unleashed investigators to scrutinise his tax records.
Controversy, however, has dogged the Krok family for years as they have steadily accumulated untold wealth over the past five decades. Abe and Solly Krok, father and uncle to Mark and Maxim, started by making their first fortune out of skin-lightening concoctions. They since went from strength to strength after venturing into the luxury resort and casino arena.
Mark Krok’s lawyers Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr do not deny that Mark owes money to the ATO but they are disputing the way the amounts have been tallied, how they have been presented and the way Sars went about getting the preservation order for Mark’s local assets.