Book-keeper jailed for 7 years for fraud

2013-04-27 08:41

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Cape Town - A 42-year-old book-keeper with an addiction to gambling, who drove her former employer to the verge of bankruptcy, was jailed for seven years on Friday on 189 counts of fraud involving R2m.

Tracy Galand, a mother of two, appeared in the Bellville Commercial Crime Court in Cape Town, before Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg.

She was sentenced to an additional five years, suspended conditionally for five years.

Galand was the book-keeper at Master Organics and had to ensure the monthly payments of suppliers to the company.

The court found she manipulated the system at FNB, to channel creditor payments to her own bank account, over a period of two years.

Sonnenberg said Galand had abused her book-keeping talent to enrich herself at her employer's expense in order to support her gambling addiction.

She had devised a complicated but clever scheme to manipulate the bank system, and this had continued for two years.

"The community expects you, as a responsible parent, to resist the urge to steal," Sonnenberg said.

"A rule of life is that if you play with fire, you must expect to get burned."

Sonnenberg said Galand had also failed in her duty to be a role model to her children.

Money overdue

Andre van Zyl, a director at Master Organics, told the court that he only became aware of the situation when his supplier of bags complained that monies owed were seriously overdue.

He said Master Organics had suffered heavy financial losses, that a farm belonging to the business had to be sold to avoid bankruptcy and the bank had withdrawn the company's overdraft as a result of Galand's scheme.

Legal Aid defence attorney Hailey Lawrence said the interests of Galand's one child, aged 11, was of paramount importance in terms of the constitution.

For this reason, she urged the court not to impose a sentence that would deprive the child of her mother's care.

Constitutional right

Sonnenberg said constitutional rights were not absolute, and that one person's rights often had to be weighed against another's to determine which person's right was more important.

Galand had a husband, who could take care of the child while she was in prison and, if this violated her constitutional right, it was of her own doing.

Sonnenberg said Galand had a previous conviction for theft, when she got a suspended prison sentence in 2001.

She agreed with prosecutor Gertrude Magopeni that, because this happened so long ago, Galand could be treated as a first-time offender.

Although no violence was involved, the court also declared Garland unfit to possess a firearm as required by the Criminal Procedures Act.

Read more on:    fnb  |  cape town  |  corruption

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