A Western Cape man and his life partner have been sentenced to direct imprisonment after they were found guilty of stealing millions of rand from their boss.
David Erasmus Marais, 55, and Brian Wilson, 49, were convicted in the Belleville Commercial Crimes Court this week.
The duo were extradited from Georgia, situated in Eastern Europe.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Marais was sentenced to an effective 12 years imprisonment, while Wilson has been sentenced to an effective six years behind bars.
Marais was employed as a Financial Manager at Soma Initiative (Pty) Ltd, between 2008 and 2019, while Wilson also worked for the same company and reported to him between 2008 and 2012.
In explaining the merits of the case, NPA provincial spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila, said Marais had access to the company’s business bank account and was responsible for the payment of creditors and service providers from the company’s bank account.
“The State alleged and proved that between April 13, 2018 and April 9, 2019, Marais, while acting in execution or furtherance of a common purpose with Wilson, stole more than R15.4 million from the company’s bank accounts.
“He deposited the money into his and his partner’s bank accounts while pretending the payments were made to creditors and service providers.”
The court found that more than R9.3 million was deposited into Wilson’s bank accounts, while Marais deposited more than R5,5 million into his own bank accounts.
“The State proved that Wilson availed his bank accounts for his partner to deposit the monies into his bank accounts illegally.
“The couple spent the money on gambling which concealed or disguised the nature, source, location, disposition, or its movement.
“This constituted the money laundering charge preferred against the accused.”
Ntabazalila said the State argued that the couple committed the offences out of greed and the theft.
“Following the theft and money laundering, the accused flew to Ireland and relocated to Georgia, but were eventually traced, arrested, and extradited to South Africa.”
In explaining the sentences, Ntabazalila said Marais was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for theft.
“But the court suspended six years imprisonment for five years on condition that he is not convicted of fraud, theft, or an attempt to commit any of the offences during the period of suspension.
“He was sentenced to four years imprisonment for money laundering and the court ordered this sentence to run concurrently with the 12 years imprisonment sentence of theft.”
He said Wilson was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for theft, with six years imprisonment suspended for five years on conditions that he is not convicted of fraud, theft, or an attempt to commit any of the offences during the period of suspension.
“He was sentenced to four years imprisonment for money laundering and the court ordered this sentence to run concurrently with the six years imprisonment sentence of theft.”