Durban doctor conned out of R3 mln

2013-03-22 00:00

A MEDICAL specialist in Durban has lost R3 million which he had transferred as a result of “serious fraud and misrepresentation” to the Absa bank account of a Ponzi-type pyramid scheme.

The appeal court ruled this week that Dr Leon Dumas cannot claim the millions back from Absa, since the money became Absa’s property when Dumas transferred it from his First National Bank (FNB) account to the Absa account of convicted fraudster Grahame Whitehead.

Through an agent, Whitehead had defrauded, lied to and misled Dumas regarding massive returns in what appeal court Judges C. Lewis, V. Ponnan, A. Cachalia, M. Theron and X. Petse described an illegal and fraudulent Ponzi or pyramid scheme.

It subsequently appeared that Whitehead had swindled people in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Britain, Australia and New Zealand in the same scam.

He is serving 10 years in a British prison.

When Dumas heard about this he immediately requested FNB to retrieve his R3 million from Absa.

Absa refused to repay it, since the money is in Whitehead’s account and may therefore be paid out only on Whitehead’s instructions.

But since Whitehead’s estate has in the meantime been declared bankrupt, Dumas has to claim his money back from the trustees of the insolvent estate, the judges said.

Absa became the owner of the money the moment it was paid into the account of its client (Whitehead). Despite the fraud and dishonesty involved, Dumas therefore had no right to claim the money back from Absa.

On top of it all, the judgment is going to cost Dumas several hundreds of thousands of rand more, since, besides his own legal costs, he also has to pay the legal costs of the trustees in both the high court and the appeal court.

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