Accountant convicted of R9m fraud

2014-10-22 18:59

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Cape Town - A mother of young children faces a minimum prison sentence of 15 years for embezzling R9m from the Raya Hotel group, the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court, Cape Town, heard on Wednesday.

Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg found Mymona Creighton, 31, guilty on 234 counts of fraud involving R9.6m.

Prosecutor Simon Leope told the court Creighton had no defence to the charges, and the minimum sentence was applicable.

Sonnenberg said the court needed a social worker's report to determine whether Creighton was a primary caregiver. The report would determine whether there were substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a less severe sentence.

Creighton, with only a matriculation exemption certificate, started working for the Raya group 10 years ago as assistant to the accountant. Seven years later she was promoted to group accountant, based at the head office in Cape Town.

Raya owns the Balmoral Hotel in Durban, and the Capetonian in Cape Town.

Creighton pleaded not guilty to the charges, and conducted her own defence. She told the court she was "guilty to a certain degree”, and disputed the number of charges and the amount involved.

Asked how much money was involved, she replied: "I have no idea."

Sonnenberg said Creighton "presented a sorry figure", but the court could not reject her testimony as dishonest.

Creighton was caught when she presented a cheque for payment to chief executive Moegamat Latief, with the name of the payee written faintly in pencil.

A subsequent investigation revealed that a number of cheques were missing, and that bills that should have been paid, had not.

Creighton denied a previous conviction for theft, dating back to 2001.

Although her record reflected a three-month suspended prison sentence, she claimed the charge was withdrawn.

The prosecutor said he would not pursue the matter as it had happened too long ago, and Creighton should be treated as a first-time offender.

The case was postponed to 24 November for sentencing.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fraud  |  crime

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