An estate agent who was convicted of theft by conversion for stealing N$6.7 million from a Democratic Republic of Congo army general has told the Windhoek High Court he has no money left to pay a fine.
The 62-year-old Erwin Sprangers was convicted recently by acting Judge Eileen Rakow for stealing from the DRC general Francois Olenga. He was convicted on five counts of theft by conversion and one count of money laundering, but acquitted on a count of fraud. His State-funded lawyer Jan Wessels yesterday told the High Court during submissions for sentencing that Sprangers was not able to afford a fine. Heidi Sprangers, his wife, said they spent most of their money, about N$2.5 million, on the legal fees in the civil case the general instituted against him. In that matter High Court Judge Thomas Masuku ordered Sprangers to repay the general US$850 000 plus interest as well as the general’s legal costs.
However, Wessels told the court that Sprangers is destitute and depends on his children for his survival. Heidi also told the court that after her business – Kintcher Estates –- folded due to bad press, her husband could not find meaningful employment and moved in with his daughter.
She further told the court that the family – including four daughters and one son – are standing behind him and are convinced the court made a mistake in convicting him.
She further said that she is aware of the existence of the antique Chinese vase Sprangers claimed he sold through the general which is where the money originated.
Sprangers alone faced charges of fraud and money laundering after Heidi was exonerated during a section 174 application. The judge found that she took no part in the dealings between her husband and the general.
The matter arises from a business transaction between Sprangers and Olenga during January 2010 when it was agreed that Olenga would deposit US$900 000 into the trust banking account of Sprangers’ estate agency, Kintcher Estates, as trust money for the development of two properties the general owned at the coast or for the acquisition of further properties for Olenga. It was charged by the State that Sprangers misrepresented to Olenga that he would only spend the funds on “expenditure expressly approved” (prior to spending) by Olenga and would upon demand pay back the funds to Olenga.
During the period extending from 10 February to 6 July 2010, the complainant’s funds totalling N$6 785 318.76 were transferred by Breadfield Trade Ltd on the instructions of Olenga in five tranches into Kintscher Estate Agents and Auctioneers’ First National Bank banking account.
Furthermore, the State said, once the money was in the said bank account, Sprangers, between 1 February and 31 December 2010 stole or misappropriated it and/or converted all of the general’s money for his own use.
Sprangers’ bail was cancelled upon his conviction and he is remanded in custody at Seeis police station until his return to court on 30 October for sentencing. Erich Moyo is prosecuting. – firstname.lastname@example.org