R1.2m fraud: Private banker guilty, blames gambling addiction

2013-10-04 08:31

A gambling addict, who was a private banker, was found guilty of multiple counts of fraud, after she cost Standard Bank R1.2 million.

Fowzia Davids (52), a university graduate with a master’s degree in business, pleaded guilty to 125 counts of fraud, and will be sentenced on October 7.

She appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Cape Town before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg, who said Davids had been out on warning, as opposed to bail. The warning was revoked and she would remain in custody until her next appearance.

Both prosecutor Zama Mtayi and Legal Aid defence attorney Hailey Lawrence agreed a prison sentence was justified.

Davids told the court her addiction to gambling had “destroyed everything”.

She said her post as a private banker had earned her the respect of her family, who had looked to her for advice, and gambling was an escape from family pressures.

Questioned by Mtayi, she said her post had given her access to the bank accounts of important clients, and she had targeted a particular client because he was often abroad and would not readily have noticed any discrepancies on his account.

She said she had intended to repay the stolen money from her gambling winnings, but the gambling soon developed into an addiction. This resulted in her gambling away her winnings, and not using the winnings as intended, she said.

“Each time family members approached me for help, I took on their pain myself, until I couldn’t handle the pressures anymore.”

She said her husband was aware of her gambling habits, but did not know where she got the money. She said the charges were initially withdrawn, with the warning that they were likely to be reinstated.

The fear of the case starting again gave her sleepless nights. Each time she heard a noise at the gate of their home she thought it was the police returning to re-arrest her.

Mtayi called for a sentence “in excess of eight years”, on the grounds that the fraud, committed between 2007 and 2009, was carefully planned and the victims carefully chosen.

He said her story, that she had taken to gambling to escape family pressures, did not make sense. She had abused a position of trust and the bank had had to compensate the victims for their losses.

Mtayi earlier withdrew similar charges against Davids’ husband.

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