Container con accused in court
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Durban - Facing more than 140 counts including fraud, corruption, forgery, theft and money laundering, Cindy Saunders, 36, appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Friday for allegedly defrauding millions from her previous employer in the shipping industry
Saunders, who is known in Durban's shipping circles, was also the subject of a recent Carte Blanche expose in which emigrating South Africans have lost thousands of rands and goods, including irreplaceable sentimental items, after entrusting their containers to Saunders to be shipped to their new home countries.
The key complaint was that Saunders had not paid over the money, which she had taken from clients, to the shipping companies who were supposed to deliver the containers. A Facebook page Prosecute Precise Shipping was also set up where aggrieved clients shared their bad experiences about Saunders's company. Precise Shipping, which has since been liquidated.
Her name also popped up on consumer complaints pages warning people not to use her services when emigrating, including Hello Peter. Shipping companies around the world told Carte Blanche that Saunders owed them millions of rands in unpaid shipping costs, with clients having to pay a second time to recover their containers.
Saunders said the liquidation of her company Precise Shipping was "due to Covid".
But it was her former employer, Nicholson Shipping, and a second company, SK Boyz from the SK Group of Companies, which have charged her for embezzling millions and which saw her in the dock yesterday. Saunders attended court with a friend and appeared calm as her case was called in the Special Commercial Crimes court.
The second person facing charges in the case, Terence Raju, was absent from court.
According to the charge sheet, in October 2018 Saunders tendered her resignation from Nicholson Shipping after a meeting with the managing director. During this meeting she disclosed that she had been defrauding the company and indicated that she "had a gambling problem and owed several ’loan sharks’ money“.
Along with the second accused, the pair are accused of setting up a criminal scheme whereby they were allegedly sourcing and selling containers, purportedly to one of her employer's clients, but were in fact raising fictitious paperwork on the deals and funnelling the money into their own accounts.
Their activities started in about October 2017 until September 2019 with Saunders accruing around R19 million.
She is expected to appear in court again on February 16.
The Independent on Saturday