Judge denies appeal to amend businessman bail conditions, says he is a flight risk
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Cape Town - A Western Cape High Court judge has denied a businessman permission to amend his bail conditions to allow him to visit his elderly parents in the Netherlands, as he is considered a flight risk.
Dutch citizen and South African resident Martin Korver, who was released on R100 000 bail on the day of his arrest in March 2018, is out on bail pending trial on charges of fraud, theft and money laundering.
The bail conditions imposed after his arrest prohibit him from travelling outside the Western and Eastern Cape provinces without notice to the investigating officer, and required him to surrender his travel documents, thereby prohibiting travel outside the country.
Other conditions are that in the event that the accused needs to travel outside the borders of the Western or Eastern Cape, he needs to give the investigating officer one week’s notice and that the investigating officer has to respond within 24 hours after the notice has been given.
Judge Ashley Binns-Ward said that the amount involved in Korver’s pending trial at the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Bellville, runs into many millions of rand and that if convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment.
“… the State appears to have a strong prima facie case against the appellant, although he denies criminal liability and contends, without volunteering corroborative detail, that the matter is properly characterised as a civil dispute with his business partners.
“The magistrate refused the application for the amendment of the appellant’s bail conditions because she was not persuaded that there had been a relevant alteration in circumstances from the time when bail was set.
“The only change in circumstances identified by the appellant was that his parents are older now than they were when the bail conditions were originally set and that more than three years have passed, without his trial commencing.
“Both of his parents were already in their early 80s when the appellant was arrested. There is no evidence that either of them is in extremis or that it would not be possible (constantly changing Covid-19-related travel restrictions aside) for them to visit the appellant in South Africa.”
Korver’s alleged offences involve among other matters, the forging of his business partners’ signatures on documents for the purposes of mortgaging the business’s immovable property in favour of a foreign registered bank.
He is also accused of appropriating the proceeds of the loan consequently advanced by the bank, and diverting deposit payments made by foreign customers of the business into his own overseas banking accounts.