Rapper AKA’s former business partner and friend Prince Nyembe filed an urgent application at the Johannesburg High Court on Wednesday to stop the rapper from diverting their company’s funds into his personal account.
In the court papers, which City Press has seen, Nyembe claims that AKA – real name Kiernan Forbes – diverted almost R2 million from income streams including a Cruz Vintage Black endorsement contract; a Cruz Watermelon contract; and album revenue from Nyce Distribution and performances, which was secured under Beam Group, to his personal account without Nyembe’s consent.
Nyembe owns a 30% stake in the company while AKA owns 70%.
Nyembe alleged in the court papers that AKA had breached their agreement contract, hence he was going the legal route.
In a separate contract, signed in 2016, AKA appointed Beam Group as his manager and agent. The contract further stated that the company’s role was to represent and receive payments on behalf of AKA.
When City Press contacted Dino Daraujo, brand manager of beverage company Distell, which has interests in Cruz Vintage Black and Cruz Watermelon, to verify whether Distell did pay the artist money on his personal account, Daraujo could neither deny nor confirm that such transaction had taken place.
All he was at liberty to say was: “I am aware of the dispute between the two parties, but I would not like to comment further as this is a private matter.”
But according Nyembe, AKA reneged on the agreement signed by both parties in 2016 which stated that Beam Group was entitled to 100% of any revenue generated by the rapper through the company.
Beam Group is now in debt and allegedly owes the taxman more than R2 million.
This is the same company that within its first year of business generated more than R11 million.
In December last year, City Press reported that AKA owed R2 million to the SA Revenue Service (Sars), although the rapper rejected the claim and accused his former manager, Raphael Benza, of trying to tarnish his reputation.
In the same court documents, Sars instructed the Beam Group, on behalf of AKA, to pay the monies that AKA owed to the revenue service.
Beam Group was also instructed not to pay any money to AKA as Sars wanted to recoup money for both the rapper’s personal tax bill and the company’s tax bill.
According to the court papers, Nyembe wrote in an affidavit that when he became aware that AKA had instructed Distell to pay funds into his account he sent an email to the company advising it that Beam Group was still open, although both directors had moved on to start their own businesses.
“Beam Group has debts that need to be settled, including payments due to Sars,” he wrote.
In September, Nyembe and AKA, together with a Sars representative, agreed that the income streams from Cruz Vintage Black, Cruz Watermelon and Nyce Distribution would be used to settle Beam Group’s debt to Sars.
This week, Nyembe told City Press that he was the mastermind behind Beam Group and that he managed to get AKA’s first endorsement, which was the Cruz Vintage Black deal.
He alleged the deal elevated the value of the rapper’s brand.
Nyembe has since blamed the Touch My Blood album expenses for depleting the company’s account.
“The last-minute overseas trips drained the account. It cost us more than a million rands. We had to make those investments for the sake of introducing his brand to the global market,” Nyembe alleged.
He said the pressure started mounting and they needed to find ways to cut costs.
“AKA felt he no longer needed the office team, but I then felt otherwise. Our relationship got a bit tense. He wanted to keep his full band for all gigs; I suggested that we use them for some, not all gigs. The band was proving to be too expensive, even for the promoters,” he added.
Although AKA had AKA Productions, the entity had never traded and had received no income before their agreement in 2016, said Nyembe.
“I never thought it would be me today that he has turned against. I spent years with my team making sure he stays on top of his game.
“To date, Beam Group on paper made R28 million, but most of it went to his brand and life, nothing came to me till this day,” claimed the frustrated Nyembe, adding that AKA was fabricating stories to make himself feel better, while he was left with debts.
“Today he takes the credit [as if] he did everything alone. He just wanted more money for himself and he needed a way out, so he decided to shut Beam Group. I never shut down Beam. I never wanted to drag him to court; I tried to speak in peace, but he was arrogant. I’ll never forget the pain he has caused me,” Nyembe said.
AKA’s road manager, Tshiamo Letshwene, said they were not aware of an urgent application against the artist.