Fugitive Hale spotted

2013-07-30 00:00

AFTER four years on the run, South African authorities are now moving in on Pietermaritzburg’s fugitive from justice, Mike Hale.

The Witness can confirm that the process of bringing Hale home has begun, so he can face multiple fraud charges here.

A well-known Pietermaritzburg investment broker, Hale skipped the country on July 9, 2009 allegedly with the money his clients had invested with him, totalling around R20 million. He was subsequently charged with 45 counts of fraud.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan yesterday confirmed that the matter had been handed over to the Directorate for Public Prosecutions and that an extradition application had been made.

Hale’s disappearance resulted in financial ruin for those who had trusted him to invest their life savings.

His former business partner and head of sales and marketing at MJCM Brokers at 296 Bulwer Street, Peter Steedman, yesterday said there had been rumours at the weekend that Hale was spotted in the UK.

“I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I am so happy. I’m over the moon. I can’t wait to see him face to face and spit in his face, because that’s what I’m going to do.” Hale allegedly cleaned out the company’s accounts, forcing the eventual closure of the business.

He never returned, and clients never got the interest payout they were expecting that month and signed cheques for staff salaries bounced. Client files disappeared or were destroyed.

Contacted by The Witness as she arrived back in the country from a visit to her daughter in Australia yesterday, Hale’s estranged wife Charma, said she had just heard the news that he had been located.

“If he has indeed been caught, I am quite elated because he owes me a lot of money.”

Charma has been trying to locate Hale since he disappeared after leaving her penniless; she wants to serve divorce papers on him.

Hale allegedly took her jewellery and her father’s gold coins worth between R200 000 and R300 000.

Shortly after Hale disappeared, Charma alleged that he had also stolen her inheritance and the money she invested in policies.

“He stole my pension and my life savings. He even stole the money I had in my cheque account,” she alleged.

A previous client, who asked not to be named, said he had lost a “fair amount” of money when Hale left South Africa.

Approached yesterday, he said: “That’s fantastic news, if they can extradite him it would be great to see him sit in front of a judge in the city he worked in.

“Hopefully we can get him back here. I don’t believe you can do that and get away with it. How can you live a life looking over your shoulder? I thought he would probably slip up and get caught one day, but I thought it would be earlier rather than later.”

Others contacted by The Witness said they had heard Hale had been spotted in Scotland.

In 2010, Hale’s photograph and a warrant for his arrest were issued and forwarded to Interpol to establish his whereabouts.

McIntosh Polela, then spokesperson for the Hawks, told The Witness in October 2011 that they had applied for a warrant for Hale’s arrest. He was then believed to be in either the UK, Spain or Australia.

“As soon as Interpol confirms a residential address for Hale, we will go through proper channels and apply for [his] extradition,” Polela said at the time.

Interpol referred queries to the SA Police yesterday, but no response was received at the time of going to press.

The British High Commission in Pretoria directed all queries to the UK Home Office, which had also not yet replied.

A LEGAL expert, who asked not to be named for professional reasons, said that extradition is a long process. The Directorate of Public Prosecutions will prepare an application setting out the case against the accused. The departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs will lodge a request with the country where the accused is residing and the extradition hearing will ultimately take place in that country.

How complicated it is also depends on whether there exists an extradition agreement between South Africa and the place where the fugitive is hiding. The expert said a warrant must be issued for the person’s arrest for an extradition application to be processed.

As seen with the Shrien Dewani matter, extradition processes can be a lengthy affair, particularly if the matter is contested in court.

IN probably the biggest financial swindle in Pietermaritzburg, Mike Hale absconded with an estimated R20 million of his investors’ money. Many of them were pensioners.

One pensioner was hospitalised after reports that Hale had stolen her money; the 73-year-old widow lost everything after she invested her life savings with him. She had been expecting interest on her investment when she learned that Hale had stolen her money.

Another elderly couple, who had moved from Pietermaritzburg to the UK, lost more than R700 000. The money came from the sale of their home in Pietermaritzburg

A 72-year-old man was reported to have lost his life savings of R100 000 and another, (71), lost R120 000.

Those who knew him alleged that Hale could also tell “tall tales”. He once claimed to have swum across the English Channel with the loot from the so-called Great Train Robbery, a £2,6 million robbery committed on August 8, 1963 at Brigedo Railway Bridge in Buckinghamshire, England.

He also claimed to have served in the Rhodesian army.


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