Woman jailed after stealing R2m from employer

2015-04-07 18:27
(File: AP)

(File: AP)

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Cape Town - A mother of three young children, who stole her employer to the tune of R2.2m over a period of only 10 months, was jailed for eight years on Tuesday.

Landi Theron, 26, formerly an assistant accountant with the insurance company Western Administration Services, appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court, before Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg.

She pleaded guilty to fraud involving R2 231 038, committed between May 2013 and March 2014.

The magistrate said the fraud was committed 58 times over a 10 month period, and had been “finely planned”.

Theron’s duties as assistant accountant involved the payment of claims to clients, the authorisation of electronic fund transfers (EFTs) and the payment of company expenses.

On one occasion, her supervisor uncovered a huge sum of money transferred from the company’s bank account to her own.

The supervisor accepted her explanation that it was a mistake, and issued her with a warning.

Of this, the magistrate said: “You got away with it easy – all you got was a warning.”

Theron was finally caught out during an audit in 2014.

Prosecutor Derek Vogel said her modus operandi was to load payments to herself on the internet banking system, and to then authorise payments to herself.

After self-authorisations, she deleted payment entries to herself on the internet, and also from the monthly bank statements.

'Staff trusted no one anymore'

Sonnenberg said the embezzlement impacted heavily on the company, and the staff, who trusted Theron as the accountant, were devastated to learn what had happened.

“After the embezzlement was uncovered, the staff trusted no one anymore, and regarded one another with suspicion,” she said.

The magistrate said Theron had qualified for the minimum sentence of 15 years, for fraud involving more than R500 000.

However, she ruled that there were substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a less severe sentence.

They were that she was a primary care giver to three young boys, that she was a first time offender and that she had repaid some of the money.

The magistrate said some of the embezzled money was spent on an expensive car for her husband.

Asked by her family where she got the money from, she assured them that she bought it from her salary, and that all was above board.

The magistrate added: “For this, you would have needed a salary of R70 000, not a mere R8 000.”

She added: “Theron sat behind her PC at the office, repeatedly transferring huge amounts from the company’s bank account to her own.

“You did this almost daily, for 10 months, because it was easy and you thought you would get away with it.”

She said a sentence of correctional supervision, involving her release into house arrest after only 10 months in prison, as suggested by defence attorney Joe Weber, was too lenient.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fraud  |  crime

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