WINDHOEK - Coastal estate agent Erwin Sprangers, 58, and his wife Lorinda Sprangers, yesterday pleaded not guilty to a charge of fraud and five charges of theft by conversion, alternatively theft, before Windhoek High Court Judge Naomi Shivute.
The case involves N$6.7 million he allegedly stole from a Congolese general.
The High Court recently ordered Sprangers to pay Democratic Republic of Congo Army General Francois Olenga US$850 000.
High Court Judge Thomas Masuku found that although Sprangers had denied the amount was paid into his account and, moreover, “averred that the amount was paid by a buyer who had been introduced to him by Olenga for the purchase of an 18th century Chinese vase”, the version given to the court by Olenga “is more probable and consistent”.
Sprangers alone faces a charge of fraud but together with his wife faces five charges of theft by conversion, alternatively theft.
The matter arises from a business transaction between Sprangers and Olenga during January, 2010 when it was allegedly 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.
According to the charge sheet, the money was to be held in trust for Olenga and could only be used for purposes approved by Olenga and would immediately be paid back to Olenga on request.
According to the summary of substantial facts in the indictment, Sprangers agreed with Olenga that Olenga would pay funds into his bank account for the purpose of developing Olenga’s properties in Namibia.
He then misrepresented to Olenga that should Olenga avail the said funds, he (Sprangers) would hold and keep in trust such funds on behalf of Olenga.
The State further alleges 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 February 10, 2010 to July 06, 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, with number 554 6004 0542, which banking details (purporting to be that of the accused’s trust bank account, whilst it was actually that of their business account) were supplied to the Olenga by Sprangers, the indictment reads.
It further said that either one of the Sprangers couple had signature rights on the account.
According to the State, once the money was in their said bank account, the Sprangers couple, between February 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010 stole or misappropriated it and/or converted all of the general’s money to their own use.
The couple is represented by Advocate Louis Botes and the State by Advocate Erich Moyo.