The City Diary: Loose cash

I'll begin with a curious case involving Christo Wiese, one of South Africa's most prominent businessmen and a former chairman of our own Instore (Brown & Jackson as was), erstwhile owner of discount retailer Poundstretcher.

Wiese had a costly run-in with the UK Border Agency last year, when he was stopped at City Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Luxembourg. When asked by officers whether he was carrying any cash, Wiese unveiled £120,000 in his hand luggage, which prompted officers to retrieve the tycoon's checked-in baggage. That produced a further haul of readies, taking the total to £674,920 (which, by my maths, is a fraction over the £1,000 limit), requiring the carrier to answer a few questions.

Wiese's explanation at the time – that he intended to invest the money in Luxembourg and "had transported it out of South Africa in travellers' cheques to avoid exchange controls" – didn't work terribly well, and his wad was seized. Last week, the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court decided it was "satisfied the cash was associated with criminality" (although the UK proceedings are civil) and made an order for its forfeiture. Wiese is now appealing.

Legal eagle

Certainly, Wiese has not been scrimping on his defence. He employed the services of the famed Clare Montgomery QC, who has subsequently moved on to defend Shrien Dewani – the British newly-wed accused of hiring a hitman to kill his bride – and has represented the likes of BAE Systems and GlaxoSmithKline. Montgomery scares many rigid – but I can't help wondering: did Wiese pay his legal bill in cash? Predictably, the QC's spokeswoman ducks that one.

Goga, please call!

Goga Ashkenazi, the socialite bosom buddy of Prince Andrew, is desperately trying to reinvent herself as a businesswoman, selflessly making herself available for numerous glossy interviews. Now I hear she's being followed around London's most fashionable spots by a film crew.

This recent publicity drive has been notable for a string of uncritical references to her commercial interests – ventures which, of course, owe nothing to Timur Kulibayev, the father of her child and the man the US Embassy cables dub "the ultimate controller of 90 per cent of the economy of Kazakhstan". Sadly, my calls to Goga go unreturned (again). Am I the only journalist she won't speak to?

Funny man

Here's a coincidence. Comedian Stephen K Amos hosted the recent CorpComms Awards for corporate spinners. His name is an anagram of "The Spokesman".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen within th...

Ashdown Group: Development Manager - Rickmansworth - £55k +15% bonus

£50000 - £63000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / D...

Recruitment Genius: Security Officer

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Applicants must hold a valid SIA Door Su...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - City, London

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - The C...

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world