Suspect in R4m cheque fraud case, nabbed

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The main suspect in the theft of six cheques valued at R4 million from the Zululand district municipality was arrested at a Richards Bay hotel on Monday.

Police said the man was part of a syndicate which allegedly stole the cheques from the municipality late in 2011.

Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said more suspects were due to be arrested shortly.

The first suspect, a cashier at an Absa branch in Pinetown, was arrested in January.

She had allegedly assisted in illegally cashing a R690 000 cheque. She has since appeared several times in the Mahlabathini Magistrate’s Court.

The Mercury has learnt that the 35-year-old suspect arrested on Monday had deposited a large amount into his bank account and withdrew R2m over a period of 14 days.

Mdunge said the man would make his first court appearance on Tuesday.

It was established that the man had accessed the cheques by misrepresenting himself as part of a company which had received a tender from the municipality.

“This legitimate company was entitled to receive payment from the municipality at the time of the theft of the cheques,” said Mdunge.

He said the man had cashed two cheques, worth R3.2m, in Empangeni. He then apparently went on a spree, buying expensive furniture and clothing, and spending time with different women at hotels around the country.

Mdunge said investigators had secured a court order freezing about R1m left in the man’s bank account and would engage the Asset Forfeiture Unit to seize any assets bought with the stolen money.

Zululand mayor Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi welcomed the arrest and called for the police to swiftly finalise the case. - The Mercury

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