Court to decide on fraudster’s millions

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Ishwar Ramlutchman appears at the Commercial Crimes Court. Picture: Zanele Zulu

Durban - Convicted fraudster Ishwarlall Ramlutchman is fighting the State’s attempt to obtain a confiscation order forsee R52 million of his assets.

The Richards Bay businessman’s counsel, advocate Jimmy Howse, argued on Tuesday that the State’s “all or nothing” approach was unacceptable.

By asking for the R52m, the State was not able to advance any alternative amount, Howse told Durban Commercial Crimes Court magistrate, Nalini Govender.

The State brought the application last month after Ramlutchman, who owns AC Industrials Sales and Services, admitted to defrauding the KZN Department of Public Works by tendering for contracts worth R52m using false documents submitted to the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) to improve the company’s grading.

Ramlutchman, 37, was recently convicted of 21 counts of fraud and one of corruption. He was fined R500 000 (or 10 years’ imprisonment) and given two five-year suspended sentences. After Ramlutchman pleaded guilty in September, the Assets Forfeiture Unit, acting on an order by the Pietermaritzburg High Court, restrained his assets.

Ramlutchman said in court papers that the department had received full value for the R52m paid to him and that in 2009 he was internally prosecuted by the construction board.

Howse argued that there was no evidence that Ramlutchman did not qualify for a higher grading.

“All he did was inflate information to support the higher grading. He got on a higher scale but he was still doing work on a lower scale which he would have qualified for anyway,” he said, calling for the application to be dismissed with costs. The prosecutor, Anandhi Naidoo, told the court that, “If Ramlutchman was able to obtain legitimate contracts without fraud, then why didn’t he?”

 

Ramlutchman would not have been awarded the contract had he not obtained his CIDB grading unlawfully,” Naidoo said. The matter was adjourned for a decision, which is expected on Thursday.

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