Emotional Brown gives testimony

2013-04-29 18:52
J Arthur Brown (Picture: Sapa)

J Arthur Brown (Picture: Sapa)

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Cape Town - Sentencing arguments in the trial of former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown were postponed by the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

Brown, who is out on R1m bail, was asked to return to court on Tuesday.

He spent the day giving emotional testimony in mitigation of sentencing, detailing the impact his three arrests and curatorship of Fidentia had on his personal and professional life.

Brown was recently found guilty on two counts of fraud, for misrepresentations he made in handling investments for the Transport Education and Training Authority and the Mantadia Asset Trust Company.

He was acquitted on seven other charges of corruption, money-laundering, theft, and fraud.

He said his relationship with the Financial Services Board (FSB) during their investigation into the company was initially civil, but soon turned sour.

FSB inspectors, accompanied by policemen with automatic rifles, stormed into Fidentia's premises in November 2006 and accused him of obstructing justice and making threats.

He said he was treated like a criminal and told: "You are completely tainted. You stole widows' and orphans' money."

He tried to present options to the FSB that did not involve curatorship as he knew the effect it would have on investors, but these were ignored.

His life came to a standstill when his bank account and that of his wife and children were frozen.

"[This was all because of the] vexatious allegation that I had smuggled money offshore... I was arrested [in 2007] on some 192 charges.

"Any friend I had, any business associate that dared stand up and tried to defend me was either discredited in the media or their business was affected."

Brown said he tried to set up another business with friends after the curatorship, to provide for his family, but the FSB shut it down.

Following "massive media hype" he received letters from various organisations to say they had released him of his advisory directorship because of the potential damage to their brand. He was also released from his position as a church elder and told: "It's not good for you to be associated with the brand."

Brown said his family was torn apart and they lived on handouts. His wife became severely depressed and moved in with friends after the media camped out near their house.

"She was very scared in the house. Someone set up a webcam across the road and set up a website with a link... the situation [also] became increasingly bad for the boys at school," he said.

Brown was arrested twice more. His last arrest resulted in him being incarcerated between April and October 2008.

A warrant of arrest was issued for his wife at the time, which he believed was a move to force him to plead guilty or enter a plea bargain.

"She was never part of my business. At the time, we shared a bank account," he said.

In the same year, a court handed down a final sequestration order.

In 2009, his wife and sons moved to Australia. He had not seen his sons since then because of strict bail conditions.

While awaiting trial in Pollsmoor Prison he was attacked on two separate occasions and spent a few weeks recovering in hospital, chained to a bed because he was deemed a flight risk.

The court heard Brown remained under tight bail conditions such as signing in at a police station every morning and not leaving the Western Cape.

This had prevented him from accepting two job offers, as they were outside the province.

Earlier on Monday, Brown said the purpose of taking the stand during sentencing arguments was not to apportion blame, but to take responsibility for his mistakes and share his side of the story.

Read more on:    fidentia  |  j arthur brown  |  cape town

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