Brown admits acting illegally as Fidentia case goes to trial


Former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown made additional admissions in his embezzlement case in the Western Cape High Court yesterday.

Prosecutor Jannie van Vuuren told the court that the time taken to comb through the indictment with Brown on Monday had been “well spent”.

Court proceedings were adjourned on Monday to clarify the admissions, which Brown said he had made because he wanted to save the court time.

“The accused has made further admissions to certain documents we dealt with,” the prosecutor told Judge Anton Veldhuizen.

He handed up a copy of the amended admissions document, which listed eight pages referring to paragraphs Brown admitted to in the indictment.

Brown faces four counts of fraud, two counts of corruption, one count of money-laundering and two counts of theft. He was arrested in 2007 in one of the biggest financial scandals in South African history.

The state alleges Brown ran a pyramid scheme and used investors’ funds for his personal gain. The biggest chunk of money that went missing from Fidentia was over R1 billion from the Living Hands Umbrella Trust, formerly the Mantadia Asset Trust Company (Matco).

The trust paid money from the Mineworkers Provident Fund to the widows and orphans of workers killed in mine accidents.

Brown was also accused of soliciting a R200 million investment from the state-owned Transport Sector Education and Training Authority (Teta) by giving its chief executive Piet Bothma a R6m bribe.

The information that Brown conceded related to the entities Fundi Projects, Antheru Trust, Teta and Matco.

The admissions involving these entities relate largely to the movement of money between Fidentia Holdings’ bank accounts and those of its clients or service providers.

Brown also admitted to certain aspects of his two theft cases, which were originally called up in the Cape Town Regional Court and later consolidated with the main trial.

On one theft count, the state alleges Fidentia bought the company Infinity, from which Brown stole R5m to pay Fidentia salaries.

In the admissions document, Brown admits to issuing an instruction to transfer R5m from the Infinity settlement account to the Infinity current account on January 24, 2007.

“On the aforesaid date, the funds were then transferred from the Infinity current account to the account of Bramber Alternative – Fidentia Alternative – …and utilised to pay salaries for employees of the Fidentia group of companies,” the document reads.

On the second theft count, Brown allegedly stole R12.6m of Antheru funds to buy the Eastern Cape farm, Thaba Manzi.

Brown admitted the money used to purchase the farm was in fact investors’ money held by Fidentia Holdings.

“The farm Thaba Manzi was thereafter transferred into the name of the Farmer Brown Agri 2 Trust. The trust therefore acquired the farms with funds to which it was not legally entitled.”

Van Vuuren spent most of yesterday questioning former Fidentia accountant Graham Maddock. The court heard Maddock was unable to testify from February 5 to11 because of a hip operation. The trial was to resume today.