US ambassador-to-be in family court battle
SA-born handbag designer Lana Marks, the globe-trotting businesswoman who is tipped to be the next US ambassador to SA, is caught up in a family feud playing out in the Eastern Cape High Court (Grahamstown). A Sunday Times report notes Marks is embroiled in a spat with her two siblings over control of their parents’ assets worth millions. She has been accused by her brother Malcolm Bank and sister Anne Pogroske of transferring their parents’ apartment in Trump Plaza in West Palm Beach, Florida, into her name without her siblings’ knowledge.
They say the apartment is valued at more than $1m (R14.4m). They also claim she ‘unlawfully’ transferred almost R2.7m from the family trust into her bank account in 2013. Pogroske reportedly told the Sunday Times she was ‘shocked and bewildered’ when she discovered her sister had been nominated by US President Donald Trump to become ambassador to SA.
Bank, a dentist living in Israel, and Pogroske, who is in Australia, claim Marks transferred the Florida property into her name in 2003 after their father, Alec Bank, died in July 1997.
Marks has been acting as the de facto trustee for her 89-year-old mother Blanche Bank, who has severe dementia. Bank and Pogroske have asked the court to declare their mother incapable of managing her own affairs. They want her replaced as sole trustee of the family’s holding trust, Balam Trust, which owns apartments, commercial shops, factories and offices in SA.
They want a new trustee – approved by at least two of the three beneficiaries – to be appointed.
However Marks, who says she was appointed trustee years ago as ‘a direct result of her mother’s wish’, has lodged a counter application for her and John Wilson, the husband of a close friend, to be appointed trustees.
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