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Cape Town - A phone call convinced directors of the Mantadia Asset Trust Company (Matco) to hand over control to the company's new owners, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.
Former broker for Fidentia Steven Goodwin testified that he helped facilitate meetings between Matco directors and former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown, which resulted in a purchase deal from Fidentia's side.
On Brown's orders, he attended a Matco “ceremony” in Johannesburg.
He said it was late afternoon when an accountant at this ceremony received a phone call.
“The accountant got a call to say funds had been transferred. There was a huge celebration and there was an announcement to staff that they had new bosses,” Goodwin said.
Prosecutor Thersia du Toit-Smit asked Goodwin if he heard what was said on the phone or if he knew the accountant's name.
“No, I couldn't. I didn't have a great deal to do with the ins and outs of these people. I could hear him talking. I could confirm funds had been transferred,” he told the court.
Brown is on trial for allegedly running a pyramid scheme and for using investors' funds for his personal gain.
He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of fraud, two of corruption, one of money-laundering, and two of theft.
It is alleged that Brown acquired Matco, but orchestrated the transaction so as to gain full control of the company before full payment of the purchase price.
He allegedly then stole R70 million from Matco's current bank account to finance the balance of the Matco purchase price.
The indictment stated that at a general director's meeting in Sandown on October 19, 2004, directors accepted that the full purchase price had been paid at the same time they received payment for their shares in the company.
They then approved the appointment of new Matco directors and resigned with immediate effect.
Goodwin earlier told the court Brown had told him how he was going to pay for the company.
“In passing discourse with Arthur, he mentioned it as a side issue. He said 'We'll just pay them with their own money',” he said.
In response to this, Brown muttered under his breath in court and shook his head. He also seemed to laugh in disbelief.
Asked if Goodwin had reprimanded Brown for his alleged plan, he replied: “It was not my place to tell him that. I didn't know how serious it was.”
The trial was postponed until Tuesday. - Sapa