The Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Ombud, which handles disputes in the sector, put more than R39m back into consumers’ pockets over the past financial year, reports the Mail & Guardian.

But Ombud John Simpson will be bowing out of its involvement in the more than 1 000 property syndicate related complaints announced in its 2022-23 annual report, released on Friday.

According to the report, the ombud received 6 483 complaints that were within its jurisdiction, of which 4 796 were resolved, during the period.

It ensured a settlement was reached in 29% of the cases, collectively awarding R39 133 121 in compensation to consumers.

Simpson said his office had not needed to issue any determinations during the financial year because respondents and consumers had co-operated to resolve the disputes.

Simpson said the more than 1 000 property syndication complaints his office had received and opened files for 2009 to 2014 had ‘presented a serious problem for the office’.

‘Numerous determinations on these matters were set aside by the Financial Services Tribunal and the office engaged in ongoing litigation with the respondents in the High Court, which was largely unsuccessful. The office was no closer to successfully resolving these complex and highly disputed matters than it was when they were opened, more than 10 years ago,’ he said.

A decision had to be made whether the office was the appropriate forum to resolve these disputes.

‘Matters where the determinations were set aside by the tribunal and were referred back for reconsideration – in some cases more than once – in the process of withdrawing from the various property-syndicate-related High Court litigation matters in which it was involved,’ Simpson said.

Full Mail & Guardian report