Business rescue practitioner and corporate lawyer Hans Klopper has vehemently denied any wrongdoing during the events leading up to the liquidation of a company called Harrison & White (H&W).

According to a Moneyweb report, he harshly criticised the Section 417 inquiry and subsequent report as being inaccurate in many material aspects and unfair, which found him ‘guilty without trial’.

Klopper has also condemned Moneyweb for publishing an article based on the confidential report. A Section 417 inquiry looks at possible stripping of assets before a company is put into liquidation. It was written in response to the Section 417 report, which found he was ‘gravely remiss in the exercise of his functions’ as a business rescue practitioner.

The report states that he should have been aware from the onset that H&W was insolvent, yet he allowed the business rescue process to continue for more than three years.

Retired Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann was the commissioner of the inquiry and penned the report.

Bertelsmann also recommended that the liquidators hold Klopper personally liable for the damage the delay caused and that the Legal Practice Council should investigate his conduct.

In a three-page memorandum, Klopper claims the report and the article are factually incorrect in many material respects and that the recommendations are neither fair nor justified, notes Moneyweb.

I was not present, and was not permitted to be present, during the inquiry other than when I testified. I testified willingly and co-operatively and in an effort to assist the liquidators and the commissioner in the winding-up process. I left the inquiry believing that I had done so and did not contemplate for a moment that I would be one of the targets of the report.’

Klopper says he was ‘appalled’ when he saw the report.

The commissioner had grouped everybody involved in the company’s management together, myself included, even though my involvement was completely different in time and purpose to that of the erstwhile managers and directors. Then, with the same brush, he tarred us all.

Klopper says he was found guilty after testifying for only an hour.

It is guilt without trial. Unlike any other defendant or accused in civil or criminal proceedings, I had none of the basic rights and protections afforded to a person before their fate is decided, including the right to cross-examine their accusers and appeal the decision.’

He adds: ‘As I am left without a legal remedy, I will deal with the content of the report and its inaccuracies in a court of law should proceedings ever be instituted against me.’

Explaining its decision to publish the report, Moneyweb says it sought extensive legal counsel after acquiring a copy of the report and published the report as a matter of public interest.

Full Moneyweb report

Klopper memorandum