Swindler owes over R2 mln

2018-06-11 17:08
Convicted fraudster Vindra Moodley hides from the media at the commercial crimes court in Durban on Friday.

Convicted fraudster Vindra Moodley hides from the media at the commercial crimes court in Durban on Friday. (Ian Carbutt)

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The woman who swindled Cowan House school out of more than R1,7 million will have to pay over R2,2 million to seven different creditors if ordered to pay back the money to the school.

This was said in court evidence by Neil Button, a trustee in Vindra Moodley’s sequestrated estate.

Moodley (49) owes R2 246 944,06 to the creditors, which continues to accrue interest. The creditors include Cowan House, SA Home Loans, and several banks for outstanding credit card fees.

She was finally sequestrated in February.

Moodley (49), who pleaded guilty to 73 counts of defrauding the school and admitted lying about having advanced-stage cancer in 2014, will be sentenced later this month.

The court heard evidence during sentencing proceedings about how the community, pupils and staff were traumatised when it emerged she’d faked having cancer.

Button explained that all the money Moodley owes would have to be paid back if she’s ordered to settle the debt to Cowan House.

She would need to pay the money to the sequestrators’ trustees, and the money would then be divided among the creditors on a pro rata basis.

She would not, he said, be able to pay back the school directly, as that would constitute an “undue preference”.

However, addressing the court in mitigation of sentence, Moodley’s attorney, Pranil Rajcoomar said Cowan House “killed the golden goose” by pursuing a sequestration order after negotiations for Moodley to pay the school R500 000 plus her pension broke down.

But state advocate Wendy O’Brien responded that Cowan House had not “killed the golden goose” but rather “she stole the egg” from the school.

“Cowan House was prepared to make the deal, but weren’t prepared to accept as a condition [by Moodley] that they drop the criminal case,” O’Brien said.

Rajcoomar has urged the court to give Moodley a suspended sentence and order her to pay back the money.

He was adamant she could pay back all the debt in five years.

He said Moodley’s psychiatrist, Dr Stewart Lund, had testified that she was mentally unstable and committed the fraud during a period where she acted “bizarrely”.

Referring to the testimony of Moodley’s current employer, Jeff Austin, he said she has the potential to earn enough to meet the debt. “The accused has corrected her ways, and wants to rise from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix.”

O’Brien however said the court should only consider a “lengthy” sentence. She said Moodley is not truly remorseful. She constantly painted herself as the victim, using a childhood history of alleged abuse by her father for her later mental breakdown which apparently led to the fraud.

“During cross-examination, when I asked the accused about what she thought the long-term impact of her actions would be on the children, she said ‘children are resilient’.

“While she expects them to be resilient, she also wants the court to accept her pain as a child and to forgive what she’s done.”

O’Brien said: “She did the unforgivable and convinced the school, including small children, that she had cancer and was dying. Those actions are wicked.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  cancer con

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