R1.4m bond application caused suspicion

2015-01-14 20:23
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Cape Town - An application for a R1.4m bond for a home priced at R820 000 created a suspicion of fraud, the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Cape Town heard on Wednesday.

FNB forensic investigator, Spring Thaba, was asked by defence attorney Andre Pienaar what caused his interest in a bond application lodged by businessman Akhila Gaji in his nephew's name.

"I found it strange for the bank to be paying out so much money - this came to me like a red flag," Thaba replied.

Gaji, the owner of Siviwe Funeral Services, lodged an application for the R1.4m bond with FNB, in his nephew's name.

The arrangement was that the nephew, who had no interest in the house in question, would receive about R100 000 from the R1.4m, to start his own business.

The nephew, who knowingly allowed the bond application to be lodged in his name, with false information, is currently in prison for his role.

Prosecutor Ezmeralda Johnson alleges Gaji falsely stated in the application that his nephew was the manager at the funeral business, earning a R39 890 monthly salary.

Gaji allegedly included in the application a false salary slip in his nephew's name.

Thaba said FNB bond applications were electronically processed and automatically granted "in principle". He then chose any at random for investigation.

The unusual amount of the Gaji application piqued his interest, and his investigation revealed that the nephew's bank statement, required for the loan, was fraudulent.

"Our strategy is to minimise fraud, and to send out the message to fraudsters that we are watching them," Thaba said.

He said he duped the nephew into going to the bank's attorneys to sign registration documents, and arranged for the police to arrest him on arrival.

The nephew "spilled the beans" to police as he protested his innocence, he said.

Questioned by the magistrate, Thaba said the electronic system "only looks at amounts, but not if the application is fraudulent".

He said there was no one at FNB to check the authenticity of applications. This was only done if an application landed on his desk.

The case was postponed to 13 April.

Read more on:    fnb  |  cape town  |  fraud  |  crime

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