J Arthur Brown trial set for October

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown. Picture: Neil Baynes.

Cape Town - The trial of former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown will start on October 10, the Western Cape High Court ruled on Wednesday.

It was to have started on Wednesday, but an application was brought by Brown's new lawyer June Marks to grant a postponement in order for her to prepare.

Judge John Hlophe heard that Brown terminated the contract with Legal Aid lawyer Braganza Pretorius in June. Marks had come on board on a pro bono basis.

Jannie van Vuuren said the State had been ready to go on trial and accused Brown of delaying court proceedings by constantly changing lawyers.

“The accused is deliberately delaying going on trial and that's his main brief to any lawyer representing him,” Van Vuuren said.

“He knows the system; he's playing the system.”

Brown faces nine criminal charges of fraud, theft, corruption and money laundering, related to Fidentia and six affected companies.

In the summary-of-facts document, Brown is accused of orchestrating a “huge” exercise of inflated assets valuations, backdating of documents and so-called asset swap agreements on the strength of “false” promissory notes in an effort to defeat the attempts of the Financial Services Board inspectorate to investigate and uncover the “true picture”.

Marks told the court she needed three months to prepare, as Brown's docket was missing vital annexures and evidence.

She accused the State of withholding these items, and said numerous e-mail enquiries had been stonewalled with the excuse that Pretorius was Brown's legal representative and not her.

Hlophe heard from Van Vuuren that every document and piece of evidence had been handed over by the end of last year.

The State intended calling at least 30 witnesses and expected the trial to take about six months.

Brown was out on bail of R1 million.

Hlophe issued a stern warning that there would be no more delays.

“This matter has been around for a long time. If, on the 10th you have no lawyer, this trial is going to proceed with or without a lawyer,” he said.

“I'm going to add another condition: that you prepare for the trial. If you are not ready on October 10, you will forfeit your bail.” - Sapa


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