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Cape Town - An application to drop a fraud charge against a company director and an accountant failed in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court, in Cape Town, on Monday.
Company director Melvyn Ivor Cunningham and chartered accountant David Warren allegedly duped J Arthur Brown into purchasing R160 million in shares in the company Webworths.
Brown was CEO of the Fidentia Holdings Group at the time,
Prosecutor Max Orban alleged that the shares were worth much less, and that the transaction was based on false financial statements prepared and audited by Warren.
At the time of the transaction, between the years 2005 and 2006, Webworths was owned by the MI Cunningham Trust, which in turn was owned by Cunningham.
Warren was the accountant at Webworths.
The application to quash the charge was brought last Friday before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg.
On Monday, Sonnenberg rejected the application, and ordered that the trial start on October 14, as scheduled.
She said the State had initially not provided defence counsel Mike Hellens SC with any details at all of the charge.
The prosecutor had provided the defence with the investigation docket, and had taken the attitude that the information required to prepare the defence was in fact all in the docket, she said.
The State's attitude was that the information in the docket was enough for the defence to prepare for trial.
Sonnenberg said the court had ordered the State to provide the defence with full particulars.
This had required the prosecution to respond to 335 questions.
However, the defence had claimed that the information furnished was so insufficient as to amount to the State “blatantly ignoring” the order to furnish particulars.
Sonnenberg said the State had an onus to prove the two accused men guilty of fraud, beyond a reasonable doubt.
She said she had read the questions asked and the answers, and all the documentation and case law referred to by the defence.
Her conclusion was that the particulars furnished were sufficient for Cunningham and Warren to be adequately informed of the charge they had to meet.
“The prosecutor has not been in bad faith, and the objections to the charge as raised by the defence were not well-founded,” said Sonnenberg.
She said the trial date would remain unchanged.