‘Insatiable greed was his undoing’

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John Julyan

Cape Town - In a string of crimes an ex-banker almost got away with, he purloined almost £1 million from the account of a city professor for two and a half years - but one last theft attempt was his “undoing”.

John Julyan, 57, was on Thursday sentenced to 15 years in jail for 39 counts of theft and one of money-laundering.

The Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court earlier found that he’d misappropriated £966 203 from the account of a client, Professor Bryan Cremin, a former head of radiology at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital who was unable to manage his own financial affairs because he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Cremin died last year.

According to the court’s findings, the transactions began in 2005 when Cremin’s mental health was on a steady decline. Julyan had at the time been an investment manager at Absa Wealth, a division of the bank. He’d used Cremin’s money to rescue his wife’s financially ailing business, purchase properties in Constantia and Knysna, go on at least one family trip to Austria, buy a speedboat, pay his child’s varsity tuition fees and even make a R1m donation to Lifesaving SA, of which he later became president.

His mother had also received R278 000 for having typed two draft wills for Cremin.

Julyan resigned from Absa in mid-2008 and during a last stint of leave, had attempted to make another cash transfer.

A clerk picked up the discrepancy.

Magistrate Amrith Chabilall described this as his “undoing”, saying that had it not been for this, Julyan’s entire series of offences might never have been uncovered.

“One shudders to think these crimes could have gone undetected had you not chosen to effect a further transaction,” he said.

During argument proceedings, prosecutor Juan Agulhas portrayed Julyan’s actions as “what could have been a perfect crime had it not been for (his) insatiable greed”.

Julyan’s defence lawyer, William Booth, however, asked the court for a sentence of correctional supervision.

Booth set out a number of factors he considered to be substantial and compelling reasons to warrant a deviation from the minimum 15-year jail sentence, among them that his client was a first offender who had been subjected to a lengthy court process.

Julyan was also educated, could still contribute to society and was a family man who was not a danger to society.

While Booth argued that about R6.5m of the money (when the matter first went to court, the stolen money equated to about R10m) had been recovered, Agulhas contended that after deductions, the bank recovered only R2.4m.

But Chabilall, noting Julyan’s “disregard of remorse”, found that the severity of the crime and the interests of society outweighed Julyan’s personal circumstances.


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