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Cape Town - A local bookkeeper who admitted in court that she had defrauded the Southern Africa PGA Tour of more than R455 000 has escaped jail time after she entered into a plea and sentence agreement with the State.
The tour, which runs events on local golfing’s Sunshine Tour, has its head offices in Somerset West.
The tour comprises three local money-spinners - the SA Open, the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the Joburg Open, which are co-sanctioned with the European Tour.
Michelle Louter, 47, of Gordon’s Bay, pleaded guilty to 123 counts of fraud, involving R455 054, in the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court on Thursday.
Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg sentenced Louter to eight years’ imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years, on condition she was not again convicted of a similar offence.
Louter will also spend two years under house arrest in Gordon’s Bay and can only leave during working hours, to do community service, to go to church or mosque and to attend treatment or rehabilitation programmes. As part of the plea agreement, Louter has to repay the money to compensate her former employer.
A bulk amount totalling R160 000 was to be paid before the end of the year - R40 000 by midnight on Thursday night and a further R120 000 by the end of December.
Louter also has to repay the remainder - R295 054.70 - in 58 monthly instalments of R5 000.
She admitted that she had committed the fraud between April 2003 and April 2010 while she worked as a bookkeeper.
The court heard that she handled the electronic capture and payments of invoices and had access to various bank accounts belonging to the company.
Payments made were captured by Louter and were authorised by two signatories - Louter and the financial manager.
If the financial manager was absent, and the chief executive was unable to authorise payments, log-in details were given to Louter to effect the payments.
The financial manager post was often vacant and on occasions when the financial manager was absent from office, Louter authorised payments herself, but diverted the money to her own bank account.
According to court papers, Louter said she used the money for day-to-day expenses and did not live a lavish lifestyle.