Western Cape lawyer convicted of fraud

2012-07-25 18:34
Cape Town - A former attorney from Paarl was sentenced to four years in jail after being convicted of fraud by the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Cape Town on Thursday.

Antoinette le Roux, 34, told Magistrate Amrith Chabillal she would refund all the money she had embezzled in exchange for her freedom.

Chabillal said the offer would not work.

"If your offer was a means to force the court's hand, it will not work. In fact, your offer is viewed in an extremely unfavourable light."

Chabillal said Le Roux once had a flourishing legal practice with a monthly income of about R80 000, but was now sequestrated and her name had been struck from the attorneys' roll.

Le Roux previously said her father had involved her in a complex scheme that required large amounts of money. She fraudulently obtained nearly R2m over a period of eight months.

Chabillal said Le Roux's story about her father's involvement was "suspicious" because she did not want him in court with her, and she should have distanced herself from his alleged scheme.

"There is no excuse for what you have done. If you succumbed to your father's influence you have only yourself to blame," he said.

Chabillal said the amount she had embezzled called for a minimum jail sentence of 15 years, but because she repaid all but R500 000, and only her father had benefited from the embezzlement, she could receive a lesser sentence.

"The court has been hard-pressed, and has bent over backwards to find reasons to avoid the minimum sentence."

He said Le Roux disgraced the legal profession, and a non-custodial sentence, as requested by her lawyer Liesl Vermaak, was "out of the question".

Le Roux cried when she was led from the court room to the holding cells.

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