Alleged Ponzi: 'People invited, not lured'

Gavel (iStock)
Gavel (iStock)

The advocate representing a couple alleged to have defrauded investors of over R500 million, claims they ran a “legitimate logistics company” and paid tax.

Advocate Jerome Brauns, SC, on Wednesday slated the state’s case against Sandile Clever Sibiya (29) and his wife, Nomalizo Prudence Sibiya (37), of Supreme National Stockholdings (SNS Holdings).

They face 14 counts of fraud, and counts of contravening the Bank Act and the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act for allegedly operating like a bank and a financial advisory service.

Brauns also said the charges are “nonsensical” and have no basis in law. “In the absence of a tangible case, why would they run away?” he asked.

The couple’s bail application started afresh before Pietermaritzburg magistrate Chris van Vuuren. The previous magistrate and prosecutor recused themselves from the case. The magistrate placed on record that her recusal was because she had been approached by people to influence the outcome of the matter, and the prosecutor cited security reasons.

Brauns said the couple did not run a Ponzi scheme and never “lured” anyone to invest with them.

People were invited to invest and told that if they were to invest a certain amount then they would get back a certain amount in return. They also paid back over R50 million to investors.

The prosecutor submitted an unsigned “intelligence report” compiled by Warrant Officer R. Gounden to reinforce its case that bail should not be granted. The report states what an informer has found out about Sandile Sibiya. It says that if he is granted bail he plans to flee SA to Maputo in Mozambique where he would stay for a few weeks, then cross the border into Zambia and, after a few weeks, go to Ghana.

The report says Sibiya is being assisted by a man who is currently renting out safe houses in all the above-mentioned countries where Sibiya will be hiding out.

The informer also said that the man is busy “manufacturing” new documents for Sibiya which include a passport. There is a warrant of arrest for the other man, who is wanted for murder.

He too wants to flee the country to avoid being arrested.

Another allegation is that Sibiya is stashing money received from the alleged Ponzi scheme with family members in Sobantu. The informer added that Sibiya has plans to assist a prominent businessman in Durban run his trucking business in the Ghana area.

Prosecutor Yashania Manickum said that everything, down to the signing of contracts in the company, was a scheme devised to defraud people.

They have the means to evade trial and plans were already put in place for this to happen. She said that if released, the couple may interfere with witnesses or offer them payment to dissuade them from coming to testify in court.

Van Vuuren will deliver judgment on whether or not to grant bail on Tuesday.

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