R1m bail for woman accused of defrauding state, foreign nationals in immigration scam

2019-03-13 14:21
Cape Town Magistrate’s Court. (James de Villiers, News24)

Cape Town Magistrate’s Court. (James de Villiers, News24)

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A woman, who is accused of running a fraudulent immigration company with her husband and one other employee, was granted R1m bail in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Well-known Cape Town immigration lawyer Craig Smith, 49, was arrested on Monday for alleged corruption, money laundering, racketeering and fraud, the Hawks said on Wednesday.

Smith was arrested with his wife Cornelia, 49, and his employee Shafieka Salie, 51, who face the same charges.

The three are accused of running an enterprise in Smith's legal practice, Craig Smith and Associates (CSA) between October 2011 and July 2014, that sought to illegally secure temporary or permanent residency in South Africa for foreign nationals.

Cornelia's bail on Tuesday was set at R1m, R100 000 of which must be paid within 72 hours.

Craig Smith’s application for bail was opposed by the State and he will apply for bail again on Friday.

Salie is currently out on R1 000 bail.

According to the charge sheet, the core business of the enterprise, referred to as Craig Smith and Associates (CSA), was to assist foreign nationals in their dealings with the Department of Home Affairs by preparing residency permits or visa applications and submitting those documents to the department.

The charge sheet further states that, in some instances, clients of CSA were privy to the fraudulent activities, but that there were "many other instances where clients were unaware that they were being supplemented with forged documents and false information".

It is believed that clients were defrauded in various manners during the process. 

'Monetary gratuity to certain home affairs officials'

When it came to the more complex documents that needed to be forged, the enterprise would call in the services of an IT specialist, Nikita Gaidouk, who ran an IT business named "The Alika" at the time, the charge sheets says.

For Gaidouk, it appears that nothing was out of bounds.

The charge sheet reads: "If a foreign national had a job offer, but Craig felt that he/she needed more skills and qualifications to obtain the permit, Gaidouk would be tasked with creating fictitious qualifications."

Furthermore, forged bank powers of attorney, medical aid membership certificates, wills or testaments, lease agreements, bank statements, and even medical reports were all offered.

"On this basis, the Department of Home Affairs was misled into granting numerous foreign nationals permits, granting them rights to remain in South Africa," the charge sheet reads.

"In addition, it is alleged that they paid monetary gratuity to certain home affairs officials based in Cape Town in exchange for the legalisation of clients, who had overstayed their permits."

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