Former Tongaat Hulett CEO Peter Staude and six others, some ex-directors, charged in a R1.5 billion fraud case involving the sugar producer have been granted R30 000 bail each.
The seven were granted bail during their first appearance before the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Thursday morning. The fraud charges relate to sales of the sugar producer’s land between 2015 and 2018.
The other co-accused are former CFO Murray Munro (55), former managing director of Tongaat Hulett Developments Michael Deighton (57), ex-Tongaat Hulett Developments planning director Rory Wilkinson (50), Kamasagrie Singh (56), Samantha Shukia (50) and Gavin Kruger (56).
Kruger was not an employee at Tongaat but was professional services firm Deloitte's audit partner at the time. Deloitte audited Tongaat for 82 years before being replaced by EY.
"When they were doing the sale, it is alleged that they were backdating [it]," said provincial Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo.
He explained that because of the alleged fraud, Tongaat’s financial reports had incorrect information that misled shareholders.
"By doing those incorrect financial reports, they were getting huge bonuses and declaring incorrect profits. The actual loss that was suffered by Tongaat Hulett is R1.5 billion,” said Mhlongo.
The captain added that the seven accused will reappear in court on 11 April.
Tongaat has been battling to regain its footing after the discovery of financial misconduct at the company that resulted in its share price plummeting. The sugar producer has since begun a civil claim against the former directors, including Staude, alongside the criminal action.
This is a developing story. More to follow.