A wealthy West Vancouver couple is suing Dutch businessman Gerry de Klerk, Rampart Films Inc. and several members of de Klerk’s family, claiming they were duped into investing millions in film projects and an ill-fated property development project in Alberta.
Frederick and Katarina Kranz filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on August 10. The defendants include Gerardus (Gerry) de Klerk; his wife, Irene Nelson; his daughter, Melanie de Klerk, an assignment editor with Global National; his son, Richard de Klerk, an actor; two numbered Alberta companies; Rampart Capital Corp.; Rampart Films Inc.; and Performance Securities Ltd.
The couple claims they met Gerry de Klerk in 2002 at an open house held to sell their West Vancouver home in the British Properties.
“Gerry is extremely charming, and he ingratiated himself into the plaintiffs’ inner circle as a friend and confidant,” the claim states.
The de Klerks didn’t have the money to buy the home, but Gerry de Klerk allegedly assured the plaintiffs that he was set to receive a “large legal settlement” from the Dutch government. The couple, according to the lawsuit, gave de Klerk and Nelson the option to buy the property for yearly instalments of $119,000 on the home’s $1.7 million price tag.
In 2006, Gerry de Klerk convinced Fred Kranz to invest $7.6 million for a property development in St. Albert, Alberta, called Avenir. But Kranz claims de Klerk used the money to make payments on the West Vancouver property and to “fund his extravagant lifestyle and to support his family.”
A year later, Kranz claims he handed out an additional $3.5 million for another parcel in Alberta, but de Klerk allegedly already owned the land and used the money to support his son Richard and buy his daughter Melanie a condo. In 2009, Fred Kranz provided an additional $6.8 million, purportedly for more land in Alberta that de Klerk allegedly owned at the time, and another $1.4 million in 2014.
However, Kranz claims there has been “no material progress” on the development and ownership of the Avenir site is murky, despite assurances that de Klerk was the sole investor in Avenir. Gerry de Klerk allegedly claimed he was an economic adviser to Barack Obama, while claiming that past legal issues that saw him jailed in the Netherlands for fraud and embezzlement were the result of a malicious prosecution, entitling him to a settlement from the Dutch government. (Gerry de Klerk co-authored a book on the subject of his prosecution in the Netherlands entitled Puppet Show.)
“Gerry has consistently sought to blame this on the St. Albert City Council, citing bureaucratic delays and unreasonableness on their part as the reason that matters have not progressed,” the claim states. “Gerry has cited family health reasons, which have allegedly demanded his attention and focus, as further justification for the slow rate of progress.”
Fred Kranz also claims he provided funds for a property in California and made various loans to finance projects by Rampart Films, a company set up to support the “fledgling career” of Richard de Klerk, according to the claim. Between 2006 and 2009, Kranz allegedly lent Rampart more than $1.6 million to finance the company’s productions of Part of the Game, Cole, Repeaters and Crossed. They claim that more than $1.2 million remains unpaid for the film loans.
In total, Fred and Katarina Kranz claim they’ve lent Gerry de Klerk and his companies more than $23 million, and allegedly were repaid “from other funds they themselves provided to Gerry in relation to other investments.”
While not mentioned in the lawsuit, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that Fred Kranz also held shares through a trust in Switzerland in a company called Dutch Oven Gold Group Inc., a Delaware shell company with no actual operations headed by Gerry de Klerk, also listing Irene Nelson, Melanie de Klerk and Richard de Klerk as shareholders.
Fred and Katarina Kranz seek unspecified general, special and punitive damages against Gerry de Klerk and Irene Nelson for fraud and unjust enirchment and against the other defendants for conversion and civil conspiracy.
The allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and the defendants had not responded to the claim by press time.