Court to hear new witness in Fidentia case

Feb 06 2013 18:19
Cape Town - The fraud and corruption trial of former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown was postponed by the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

Proceedings will resume on Thursday with the calling of a new State witness.

Brown is accused of running a pyramid scheme and of using investors' money to fund a lavish lifestyle.

He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of fraud, two of corruption, one of money-laundering and two of theft.

Some of the charges relate to him allegedly soliciting a R200m investment from the Transport, Education and Training Authority (Teta) by giving former Teta CEO Piet Bothma a R6m bribe.

More than R3m of the Teta money was apparently used to buy four 4x4 vehicles for Brown and his co-directors, and over R10m was used for properties in Sunset Beach.

Prosecutor Thersia du Toit-Smit questioned on Wednesday Dalpat Naran, Teta's former chief financial officer.

The State believes Brown made various misrepresentations to the company, including the fabrication of "investment statements", which were forwarded to Teta and Naran.

Judge Anton Veldhuizen interrupted questions about the movement of money.

"Let's cut to the chase," he said, and asked Naran if the investment money was ever repaid.

Naran said it was not, and that the company eventually decided to write off the amount.

Veldhuizen said this must have happened around the same time the Financial Services Board (FSB) started investigating Brown.

"The FSB stepped in and then everything was frozen, and the money was never repaid," Veldhuizen said.

Du Toit-Smit asked Naran if it was acceptable that Teta money was used to purchase luxury items.

"Not to me. I would have done something about it immediately [had I known]."

Naran was allowed to leave the stand. He will be cross-examined by Brown only after former Fidentia accountant Graham Maddock becomes available for cross-examination.

Maddock underwent a knee operation last week and is in recovery.

He was jailed for, in effect, seven years in 2008, on 54 counts involving fraud, theft, money-laundering, contravening of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, and the reckless or fraudulent conduct of business.

He served two years in jail. The rest of his sentence was converted to non-custodial correctional supervision.

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