I have “smoking gun” evidence: Holdsworth

AppChat founder and CEO, John Holdsworth says he has “smoking gun” evidence to prove that JSE-listed company, Reunert misled the court in order to enforce a restraint of trade against the start-up.

Reunert originally brought an application in March 2012, in which it sought to enforce a contractual restraint of trade against Holdsworth and obtain interdicts preventing him and AppChat from ever competing against it.

The case was founded on an allegation by Reunert that AppChat was intending to directly compete with a mobile VoIP application that Nashua ECN were developing and had planned to launch imminently.

Holdsworth was the founder and CEO of ECN (Nashua), a provider of IP-based next generation network services. He sold that business to Reunert in July 2011.

He denied Reunert’s allegations, claiming that ECN had never traded in the mobile market and that its entire business was in the fixed line market.

Holdsworth was granted leave to appeal following a ruling delivered in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on 25 January.

Smoking gun

Holdworth said this week that new evidence had come into his possession. He said that a whistle-blower working in Nashua ECN’s financial department, provided AppChat with a copy of Nashua ECN’s annual budget for financial year 1 October 2011 to September 2012 under the Protected Disclosures Act.

“This document is crucial as it covers the period of my restraint which ended on 28 August 2012,” he said.

According to Holdsworth, the evidence proves that Reunert had not planned any expenditure for mobile or mobile VoIP. He alleges that Reunert did not have any plans to develop a mobile VoIP application or enter the mobile market.

“Reunert’s legal documents are a web of half-truths and lies. The disclosure of Nashua ECN’s annual budget for financial year 1 October 2011 to September 2012, is the “smoking gun” evidence that finally blows their elaborate fraud out of the water.

“I think post this case people need to realise that large JSE-listed corporates do tell lies and should not just be believed,” Holdsworth said.

The Appchat lead stressed that observers would be shocked at the tactics Reunert adopted. “This is just the tip of the iceberg…all will be revealed soon,” he said.

AppChat launch

Holdsworth said that AppChat has been placed in a very difficult, “if not impossible position”.  He noted that Reunert had large financial resources, and a large and “aggressive legal team” who work very hard to make his life as difficult as possible.

“Ultimately they will not rest until they have shut AppChat down and had me thrown into prison for contempt of court. These guys are utterly ruthless and have adopted a win-at-all-costs approach. I tried to settle but they refused. It really is a case of fight or die,” he said.

However, Holdsworth said he was confident that the company would still launch, and he hoped to make an announcement in due course.

Andy Openshaw
Andy Openshaw

Reunert response

Andy Openshaw, MD at Nashua Communications says that Reunert is “comfortable” with its case against founder John Holdsworth.

Openshaw said that the SCA’s decision was not a shock to the company. “We had expected it to happen.

“We have had lots of mud flung at us recently,” he said adding that the company did not want to get itself involved in that kind of  behaviour, instead leaving it up to court procedure to argue its case.

“We are very comfortable with our case. All previous accusations have been proven wrong by the court,” Openshaw said, adding that he expected the same outcome in future.

Reunert pointed out that in four previous visits to the North Gauteng High Court had seen the company  prevail, with costs.

Openshaw also pointed out that restrictions currently placed on AppChat “are still in place”.

The case will now move forward to a full Bench of the North Gauteng High Court.

More on AppChat and Reunert

Reunert hits back at AppChat

Reunert has committed fraud: Holdsworth

Holdsworth ready to sacrifice all in Reunert battle

AppChat’s Holdsworth: “Cowboys don’t cry”

Holdsworth to appeal AppChat ruling

AppChat to forge ahead?

Reunert vs. Holdsworth: High court rules

Holdsworth accuses Reunert of delaying tactics

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I have “smoking gun” evidence: Holdsworth