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Not sweet, as Cape Cookies former manager comes under cosh

Accused fraudster Riccardo Spagni (cream jacket) with his legal team outside the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court where his criminal trial is underway. Picture: Chevon Booysen

Accused fraudster Riccardo Spagni (cream jacket) with his legal team outside the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court where his criminal trial is underway. Picture: Chevon Booysen

Published Oct 12, 2023

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The criminal trial against accused fraudster and ex-fugitive, Riccardo Spagni, went ahead in the Cape Town Regional Court on Wednesday, where the court heard cross-examination of the Cape Cookies former finance manager, Dekker Keuler.

Keuler, a State witness was questioned about documents he had furnished to the police investigating officer during 2018. It was Keuler’s submissions that the documents he had submitted related to invoices that were issued before he started working at the company, and when a request was made for the documents, he compiled a "short schedule" that was to assist in the criminal investigation.

Spagni’s legal team grilled Keuler on whether the invoices he had given to the investigation officer were "originals" or copies of the originals.

Keuler maintained that it was his opinion, due to specific markings on the documents, that he submitted the original documents as requested by the investigation officer.

Meanwhile, Spagni’s application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court against a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) order was unsuccessful.

The SCA found his extradition appeal was moot and that there was “no live controversy between the parties and that the determination of the issues would have no practical effect as Spagni was already back in South Africa for the continuation of his trial”.

Spagni argued that his extradition back to South Africa was invalid and unlawful.

Representing Spagni, Hendrik Theron, from Hanekom Attorneys, said: “Regrettably the application for leave to appeal from the SCA to the Constitutional Court was refused, and as such, no hearing date had been allocated.”

Spagni faces 378 fraud and forgery-related charges for allegedly defrauding Cape Cookies of more than R1.5 million.

Spagni had also in another application to the Western Cape High Court, sought the disclosure of certain sections of the police docket.

As a former IT manager of the baked-goods supplier between October 2009 and June 2011, Spagni is alleged to have intercepted invoices from another company. These related to information technology goods and services, and supplying it to Cape Cookies.

Senior State advocate Tillette Berry motivated in an affidavit that Spagni was a “vexatious litigant” in that he suggested “malice” on the part of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Berry said the suggestions were “without merit and objectionable”.

The matter continues.

Cape Times