WINDHOEK - The testimony of a woman serving an eight-year prison against her former husband proved enough for Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg to convict him on 32 counts of theft and one count of money laundering.
The judge convicted Isak Serfontein, 50, of theft, instead of the main counts of fraud, and said he was not directly involved in misrepresentation.
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.
According to Judge Liebenberg, the evidence of Stephanie established that Serfontein’s involvement only started after the proceeds of her fraudulent scheme were paid into his bank account.
He said only Stephanie made the misrepresentations to Ferro-Drill and although he benefitted directly from the proceeds of the fraudulent transactions, he was not directly and personally involved in the fraud.
The judge further said that gist of Stephanie’s evidence is that Serfontein was involved from the outset after she let him in on the details of the fraud she was running.
He stated that Stephanie testified in an honest and forthright manner, contrary to the accused’s evidence that was riddled with inconsistencies.
According to Judge Liebenberg, the defense of Serfontein that he did not know what was going on in his bank account was inconsistent with the manner in which he assumed ownership of the funds deposited into his account.
“The accused’s defense in this instance amounts to nothing more than a blank denial of the offences charged, claiming not to have known that monies paid into his account and from which he benefitted were the proceeds of unlawful activities committed by Stephanie,” the judge found.
He further said when considering the accused’s version against the proved facts – including his own admissions – it is evident that the accused indeed accessed his bank account and was able to operate the system, contradictory to his defense of ignorance and has all the makings of an afterthought.
He said that it seems inescapable to come to the conclusion that the defense of the accused is not reasonable possible and falls to be rejected as false where in conflict with that of State witnesses.
“I am accordingly satisfied that it had been established that upon learning the origin of the funds deposited into his bank account, the accused from the outset acted hand in glove with Stephanie.
The judge further said that Serfontein is guilty of theft because he appropriated the funds deposited in his bank account by Stephanie, funds he well knew were the proceeds of unlawful activity.
He said the intention of Serfontein to permanently deprive the rightful owners of the funds – Ferro-Drill – from the property is evinced by the manner in which these funds were used and disposed of by the accused.
These actions, the judge said, satisfy all the elements of theft and he cannot escape a conviction as such.
With regards to the charge of money laundering, Judge Liebenberg found there cannot be any doubt the arrangement between Stephanie and Serfontein to utilise his savings account at Nedbank was done to disguise the origin of the proceeds of crime, followed by the transfer of funds into various accounts, including the FNB account of the accused.
He said he is satisfied that the state proved the indicted offences (as amended) beyond reasonable doubt and Serfontein must, therefore, be convicted as charged.
Serfontein is represented by Jan Wessels and Advocate Constance Moyo is prosecuting.
2020-01-22 07:17:06 | 27 days ago