Cape restaurateurs have been left with a bitter taste in their mouths after they were allegedly swindled out of millions of rand by a man called Luan Schultz.
ANGRY Cape restaurateurs have allegedly been swindled out of millions of rand by a man masquerading as a business consultant who racked up huge unpaid bills with suppliers and re-routed payments to his personal accounts.
Now the knives are out for Luan Schultz. The owners of Boujee and Ivy on Park restaurants, claim they entered into a business partnership with the man who brought nothing but headaches and unplanned expenses.
The two business owners said he racked up accommodation bills of up to R80 000 while orders of wine, fish, spices and pastas — that never arrived at the restaurants — came close to R5 million.
Owner of Boujee, Ladipo Akindele, told Weekend Argus Schultz defrauded his business by allegedly re-routing up to R1.6m from his business before he caught on.
Akindele said Schultz joined Boujee as a project manager for four months before leaving in September. He received a monthly retainer of R17 500 and was responsible for making “positive” changes to Boujee’s system. He was also put in charge of the restaurant’s human resources.
“The first thing he did was to change our POS (point of sale) system by adding his bank details as the sole recipient for every sale that went through. This went on for four months,” said Akindele.
“He would also invite a lot of people over and give the food away for free, to create the impression that business was booming when, in fact, it was dying.”
Akindele said Schultz left after he found out about the missing money. He then joined the Ivy on Park restaurant, formerly known as Kind Regards. Shortly after this, Akindele opened a case with the police.
One of the owners of Ivy on Park, Preehen Naidu, 35, told Weekend Argus that he “was disappointed” with Schultz’s actions.
“He offered to revamp one of my other places (restaurant) after he offered R2.5m to buy into my business … bear in mind, he was supposed to pay for (the renovations), but I had to pay for everything – that’s if he didn’t take everything on credit that I now have to pay for,” said an emotional Naidu.
“In another incident, he said, ‘there’s a good deal’ on printers and tablets. He wanted R30 000. The money went straight into his account,“ he said.
But that deal also soured after Naidu claimed the quality of the products that arrived did not match what was promised.
“Two printers arrived. It was a fong kong brand. The tablets were useless. That we sent back,” said Naidu.
Naidu said he was also shocked to learn that Schultz not only took money from his suppliers and the hospitality establishments but also rerouted payments to his account.
Naidu, who also owns the Ivy on Park guest house in Gardens, said Schultz – who had been staying at the establishment for two months with his boyfriend, David Prett and his father – abandoned the duo without paying their R80 000 bill.
“We suspect that David is part of this scam,” said Naidu.
But Prett denied that he was in on the alleged scam.
“I never knew what he was up to,” said Prett, who was in a relationship with Schultz for 12 years.
“I was under the impression that he had a lot of money, not this dodgy dealings.
“I had no idea what Luan was up to. He duped me too. I am a victim as well.”
Weekend Argus understands that at least four cases of fraud were registered with the police, but only two were confirmed by the SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The case that was opened by Akindele is still under investigation, according to police spokesperson Ndakhe Gwala.
“Cape Town Central police are investigating a case of fraud. The suspect appeared in court on November 7 2022,” Gwala said.
The case that was opened by Naidu took a dramatic turn when the suspect failed to appear in court on November 21.
“The accused failed to appear in court. A warrant of arrest was issued,” said NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.
A supplier for Ivy on Park, which is paid on a monthly basis, told Weekend Argus that Schultz would order “various goods” on the restaurant’s name.
“He would order ‘stock’ on a daily basis – worth hundreds and thousands of rand. After two months, we still didn’t receive any money. We contacted Preehen, and they weren’t aware of anything. They’re now footing the bill,” a rep from the supplier said.
The two restaurant owners said they have now entered into payment arrangements with other suppliers.
Naidu said he now has to fork out an extra 15% on their monthly supply bill to pay off their repayment plan for the bills Schultz allegedly racked up.
“We are on the verge of collapse because of this, but after explaining (the situation), our suppliers backed down,” he added.
In a video provided to Weekend Argus, where the owners cornered Schultz to confront him – he can be heard denying all the allegations against him.
“We are very disappointed. It’s a callous act. We want justice, nothing else,” said Invin Vandiar, who is a partner on some ventures with Naidu.
Attempts to reach Schultz for comment were unsuccessful, as calls and messages were ignored.
Source: Weekend Argus
Written by Brandon Nel