Durban - A Durban man and his sister, charged with 2 505 counts of fraud relating to an alleged Ponzi scheme, have failed in their latest bid to have the charges thrown out of court.
A review application by Mervyn Dennis and his sister, Mary Ann Peter, was on Tuesday found to be “non-reviewable” by Judge Themba Sishi, sitting in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
This means the matter is to be placed back on the Durban Magistrate’s Court roll for trial. A legal source said the siblings could turn to the Supreme Court of Appeal as a last resort if they wished.
The siblings were also charged with one count of contravening the Banks Act in connection with allegations that, through Dennis’s “investment club”, Global Investments, R139m was taken from people.
It is alleged that Dennis started the company in 1998 and encouraged investors, most of them pensioners, to invest.
He promised the money would be invested on the JSE and that returns would be excellent.
It is alleged about R139m was invested in the club between 1998 and 2005, but that only R4.9m was put into the stock market.
About R61m was used to repay investors and the remainder was allegedly spent by Dennis on gambling, jewellery and payments to car dealerships.
Dennis was initially charged in 2006, but that case was withdrawn. The charges against him were reinstated in March 2010 – and his sister was also charged.
Judge Sishi noted yesterday that in 2011, the magistrate’s court refused an application for a permanent stay of prosecution. The siblings applied in March 2012 for leave to appeal, and this was also refused.
In October that year, they brought a review application that was to be argued yesterday.
The State, however, viewed it as an appeal and said it could not be argued as a review.
The judge ruled in the State’s favour.
The accused wanted their prosecution to be stayed permanently, claiming that vital documents and information, which they needed to prepare for their defence, had been lost.
The documents were seized from Dennis’s offices during a raid by the Financial Services Board in April 2006.
The State was of the view that there was nothing to stop the siblings from reconstructing the information.