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A South African businessman, Francois Heyns, has been fined after pleading guilty to defrauding two foreign companies in fruit export deals.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said in a statement on Monday that the sentence was handed down by a Bellville, Cape Town, regional magistrate last week in terms of a plea agreement.
The Scorpions began investigating Heyns in mid-2004 following complaints by Dutch and Russian companies.
The NPA said that in 2003 the Dutch company, Greenbox, gave Heyns or his companies REM and Freshrite an advance of over R1,1-million to supply 50 000 cartons of seedless grapes from the Upington district.
The money was however spent on unrelated items.
A similar scam, this time involving pears and a payment of R235 000, was committed the following year on the Russian company, Sunway.
In the agreement, Heyns pleaded guilty to two counts of theft.
He was sentenced to a R50 000 fine or three years' jail, with another seven years suspended, and ordered to compensate the foreign firms.
He was also sentenced to three years of correctional supervision.
The NPA said the sentence showed the authorities would not "play a spectator role" to criminals who wanted to ruin South Africa's image by defrauding from international traders. - Sapa