Fourteen suspects who allegedly operated an illegal asset financing scheme are expected to appear in the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court on Thursday on charges that include money laundering to the tune of R40 million.
Members of the alleged syndicate, two women and 12 men, were arrested in the early hours of Wednesday by police during an integrated operation.
They were charged with fraud, theft and money laundering.
According to police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi, local financial institutions sounded the alarm about a syndicate operating a “huge asset financing scheme”.
Swartbooi said: “Reports suggested that the members of this syndicate would create and submit false vehicle finance applications to motor dealerships with whom they had a corrupt relationship.
“Armed with the information at their disposal, a multi-disciplinary team of detectives attached to the Provincial Commercial Crime Investigation Unit conducted an extensive investigation.”
Following a thorough probe into the matter they made a breakthrough.
“On December 13, police members who formed part of an integrated operation, arrested the suspects.
“As part of the ongoing investigations the possibility of more arrests is not excluded,” Swartbooi said.
Provincial police commissioner Thembisile Patekile commended the officers.
Patekile expressed his confidence that the unit’s work should pave the way for a conviction and ultimately a hefty sentence that “should serve as a deterrent to criminals in the Western Cape”.
Recently the Hawks arrested a 44-year-old woman in connection with vehicle fraud amounting to more than R4m.
Hawks spokesperson Zinzi Hani said that this was after officers were alerted to allegations that the suspect, with her husband, both directors of the company, were using fraudulent documents to purchase vehicles between 2019 and 2023.
Hani said: “It is reported that the suspects were involved in a vehicle-purchase scheme by applying for hire-purchase finance from banking institutions using fraudulent documents.
“These were submitted via a dealership in targeting the balloon car payments option, resulting in them changing the vehicle ownership from various licensing departments around Gauteng and the Western Cape provinces into their company.”
Hani said the bank uncovered the scheme and reported it to the Hawks.