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Former accountant sent to jail

2019-02-26  Roland Routh

Former accountant sent to jail

WINDHOEK - Stealing to support an expensive lifestyle including private schools and expensive weddings plus various failed business ventures landed a former assistant accountant in jail for eight years after Windhoek High Court Judge Kobus Miller convicted her of 34 counts of fraud and one count of money laundering on her own admission.

The judge was of the opinion that Stephanie Serfontein, 49, who pleaded guilty to 34 charges of fraud, first alternative theft by false pretences, second alternative theft as well as one count of money laundering suffered such a life of misery that it led to her fleecing the company that she worked for of about N$4 million, but however did not condone her conduct. According to him, she showed remorse for the crimes she committed. 

He sentenced her to 13 years on the fraud counts of which five years were suspended for five years on the condition she is not convicted of fraud or theft during the period of suspension. 

He also sentenced her to five years on the money laundering count, but ordered that it should run concurrently with the sentence on the fraud charges. 

She was charged together with her ex-husband, Isak (Sakie) Serfontein, 47, but their trials were separated after she indicated she wish to plead guilty to all charges. 

In amplification of her guilty plea, Serfontein submitted a plea explanation in which she admitted inflating invoices of genuine creditors and then redirecting the inflated amounts into the bank accounts of her daughter (two occasions) and her ex (32 occasions). She further stated that she was at all relevant times employed by Ferrodrill Namibia as a senior administrator responsible for dealing with new creditors and making online monthly payments to the creditors of the company. 

Her responsibilities also included uploading monthly payments to creditors for payment by the CEO of the company. “Due to my crippling financial problems, I during October 2009 devised a scheme to fraudulently benefit from a Ferrodrill’s creditor payment system by inflating the amounts reflected on the original invoices received from the company’s creditors and submitting the inflated invoices for approval,” Serfontein stated and continued: In the execution of this scheme I would create my own invoices reflecting inflated amounts which are higher than what would appear on the original invoices submitted for payment by the company’s legitimate creditors. Thereafter I would compile a payment schedule and submit same together with supporting documents to Mr Van Wyk (CEO) for approval. Once approved I would then upload the inflated amounts on the system for payment reflecting the correct name of Ferrodrill’s legitimate creditor, but instead of loading the legitimate creditor’s banking details, I would substitute the legitimate creditor’s banking details with those of either my daughter (two occasions) and/or those of my then husband, second accused (32 occasions).

She went on to say that after payment had been received, the legitimate creditor’s invoice(s) would then be settled with the balance of the inflated amount(s) being misappropriated for the benefit of myself and the second accused. She admitted that N$17,6 million was misappropriated in that way, but explained from that amount N$13,3 million was redirected to the bank accounts of the legitimate creditors while difference being just more than N$4 million was shared by her and accused two.

She further admitted that from October 2009 up to July 2012, she carried out the scheme. The trial continues today.

Advocate Louis Botes represented Serfontein on instructions of Sarel Maritz and the state by Advocate Constance Moyo. The trial continues today.

2019-02-26  Roland Routh

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