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Johannesburg - A Lenasia man is being accused of manipulating the justice system to ensure the cases against him are fought on his terms.
Cassim Aysen, the financial director of Africa Cash & Carry, was arrested in July and accused of siphoning R42 million from his firm’s accounts.
The Star has seen correspondence between Africa Cash & Carry’s lawyer, Saleem Ebrahim, and a Brigadier Ronnie Rajin that details the alleged fraud. Africa Cash & Carry is also accusing Aysen of laying “frivolous” complaints against the investigating officer in an attempt to have him replaced.
At least two criminal cases were heard opened against Aysen, but Ebrahim claims in a letter they had now been centralised with his third case at the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.
Africa Cash & Carry suggests consolidating the criminal cases against Aysen - so only commercial crimes are involved in the investigation - is an attempt to alter the outcome of the court proceedings.
“In the event that the suspect is able to change the investigating officer and consolidate the cases, I am instructed by my client to bring the matter to the attention of the (SAPS) and the media. This would constitute an unlawful irregularity,” the company’s lawyer wrote.
The letter indicates a meeting between Aysen, his lawyer and SAPS investigators in late August during which decisions regarding the investigation allegedly took place without Africa Cash & Carry’s representatives present.
It details Aysen’s alleged crimes, describing how he and two others bought goods for Africa Cash & Carry at prices above market value and sold them back to the same supplier for lower prices for kickbacks.
The supplier has allegedly confessed to the scheme.
Aysen’s lawyer, Yusuf Ismail, denied the allegations, saying his client’s concerns against the investigating officer were legitimate.
“Our client has not asked for the removal of the investigating officer in favour of another as alluded to,” said Ismail.
He said the meeting between him and the police took place without his client present and Aysen had nothing to do with any decisions taken.
But in another letter which was sent from Ismail to Rajin, Ismail said his client’s arrest was “unnecessary and unwarranted”.
He said the investigating officer, a Captain Sina, had executed an Anton Piller order against Aysen which provides the right to search premises and seize evidence without prior warning.
However, Ismail argued obtaining such an order was a “gross irregularity” and that his client did not resist the probe. Ismail also claimed Sina harassed Aysen’s family.
Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority has denied consolidating the cases.
“In addition, my office is not aware of any allegation(s) of the ends of justice being manipulated and, accordingly, nothing will affect the court proceedings at the SCCU (Specialised Commercialised Crimes Unit) Johannesburg,” said advocate Gideon Nkoana in written correspondence with The Star.
Despite a series of questions posed to police almost two weeks ago regarding the allegations, provincial police spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale was unable to provide a written response.
Ebrahim has declined to comment.
Aysen claimed in his affidavits to the Commercial Crimes Court the charges are an attempt to push him out of Africa Cash & Carry, where he has worked since 2002, and take his shares in the company.