Judge decries ‘white-collar crime’… convicted thief slapped with eight years behind bars
High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg said that there is currently an alarming increase of ‘white-collar’ crime in Namibia and that in sentencing, courts are entitled to take judicial notice of the increasing prevalence of such offences in its jurisdiction.
He said this when he sentenced convicted thief Isak Serfontein to an effective eight years in prison late last week in the Windhoek High Court. Serfontein was charged together with his ex-wife, Stephanie, for defrauding Ferro-Drill Namibia of N$4.2 million over a period of three years while she was employed there.
Stephanie admitted guilt and was convicted and sentenced last year, but Serfontein denied any wrongdoing and his trial was conducted during September last year.
He was convicted on 32 counts of theft and one count of money laundering and was sentenced to 13 years on the theft conviction and six years on the money laundering conviction.
It was, however, ordered that five years on the theft conviction is suspended for five years on condition that Serfontein is not convicted of (without the option of a fine) committed during the period of suspension.
He was further sentenced to six years on the money laundering conviction and this sentence was ordered to run concurrently with the other sentence. Stephanie testified against Serfontein and her testimony was crucial in his conviction, Judge Liebenberg found in his judgment.
According to the judge, Serfontein worked hand in hand with Stephanie in dispersing the stolen money despite him having disputed knowing the origins of the funds.
The judge further said that the crimes Serfontein stand convicted off are indeed serious and moreover it was committed over a period of two years and eight months and involves the loss of large amounts of money.
“When considering the nature of the crimes committed and the surrounding circumstances, regards must be to the 32 incidents where money, which he know were the proceeds of crime, were paid into his account over a period of time,” Judge Liebenberg remarked and continued: There was ample time and opportunity for him and his former wife to stop their criminal behavior and reflect on their actions.
He went on to say that Stephanie testified that at one point she wanted to come clean, but was threatened by Serfontein that that if she were to so; he would dispute it and put all the blame on her.
However, he added, on the other hand, well-knowing that she – according to his knowledge – had a history of dishonesty, he should not have been taken by surprise when she confided in him and instead of discouraging her or bring his wife to her senses, it suited him like a glove where after he immediately indulged in the spoils and improved on his lifestyle.
According to Judge Liebenberg, the convict did not take the court into his confidence at any stage of the trial; not even when he had the opportunity to do so under oath in mitigation.
This, the judge stated, substantially increased his moral blameworthiness, which will result in a lengthy custodial sentence.
However, the judge said, the present matter is an instance where the cumulative effect of the separate sentences to be imposed should be ameliorated by an order that the sentences are to be served concurrently. Serfontein was represented by Jan Wessels and Advocate Constance Moyo prosecuted. -firstname.lastname@example.org
2020-02-25 06:52:53 | 1 months ago