Twist in multi-million rand Durban Ponzi scheme bail hearing as court told of new R35 billion Gauteng scam

Brandon Naicker and Abraham Pillay, accused of a R180 million Ponzi scheme, face court as Detective Maphumulo reveals Naicker's involvement in another potential fraud, despite ongoing investigations. Pictures: LinkedIn

Brandon Naicker and Abraham Pillay, accused of a R180 million Ponzi scheme, face court as Detective Maphumulo reveals Naicker's involvement in another potential fraud, despite ongoing investigations. Pictures: LinkedIn

Published Nov 27, 2023


The alleged mastermind behind an alleged multi-million rand Ponzi scheme that targeted pensioners and left scores of investors penniless, had devised another scam to fleece unsuspecting investors, despite knowing that he was under investigation.

This is according to Detective Constable Simphiwe Maphumulo of the Hillcrest police who was on Monday testifying in the bail hearing Brandon Naicker, aka Muruvan Egambaram, and his co-accused, Abraham “Jason” Pillay, accused of running a massive R180 million Ponzi scheme.

The pair have been arrested for fleecing one investor for R2 million and have been charged with eight counts, including theft and fraud in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court.

However, it is one of more than 80 cases currently being probed by detectives from the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (also known as the Hawks) where investors lost tens of millions of rands.

During the continuation of their bail application on Monday, Detective Maphumulo told the court that since his testimony in opposition of bail last week, he had discovered another scam by Naicker in which he tried to get investors to invest in a supposed R35 billion development in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.

According to Maphumulo, Naicker had been communicating with an investor about investing in the R35 billion development up until September, despite being aware as far back as July that he was under investigation.

Maphumulo provided the court with a signed affidavit and WhatsApp communication between Naicker and the potential investor.

Maphumulo told the court that Naicker had told potential investors that he needed to raise capital of R250 million for the development. He had told investors that he had already raised R290 million and promised investors a 300% return on their investment. The minimum amount to invest was R100,000.

According to Maphumulo, the R350 billion development was being run through another of his companies, Brandon Naicker PTY LTD.

The court had earlier heard from the State that Naicker and Pillay ran a brokerage firm called Branson Capital.

Senior State prosecutor Joel Kisten told the court that the money paid into the Branson Capital account by investors was used to pay earlier investors, for gambling tokens, properties, forex, and to support the lifestyle of Naicker.

In his testimony on Monday, Maphumulo said that Naicker, despite telling the court in his plea for bail that he had resigned from Branson Capital in September last year, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) records show that he was only removed as a director in July this year — the same month that he began his investigation into him.

“He says he resigned in September, but from my information, funds from investors were deposited into his personal account, which is a Standard Bank account, during this period (after he resigned). This tells me that he is not willing to stop this operation of his,” Maphumulo said.

Advocate Dhamien Reddy, representing Naicker, argued in his closing statement that his client had no intention of evading a trial and pointed to the fact that he had presented himself at the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court, where he was arrested in early November.

Reddy said that despite the investigating officer’s “bold assertions" about his client unlawfully being released from custody or fleeing when police had come to his house in Ballito, these assertions were not backed up by any affidavits to support the claims. He also argued that his client would not interfere with the investigation if released on bail and said that keeping his client in custody because the investigation is ongoing was not in the interest of justice.

Legal Aid attorney Waseem Hoffese, who is representing Pillay, argued in his plea for bail that his client had deep roots in the community, a five-year-old child and a wife whom he supported, and does not pose a flight risk.

Hoffese lambasted Detective Maphumulo for changing his testimony about Pillay’s fitness for bail “depending on who was asking."

He was referring to an incident where Maphumulo had backtracked on his testimony that he would not oppose bail for Pillay, but when asked the same question by Magistrate W Robinson, he said he was opposing bail.

In his arguments for the State, advocate Kisten said that the State contends that Naicker and Pillay are flight risks who are “prompted and motivated to flee because of the realisation of the nature and gravity of the offences and the prospective mandatory sentences to be imposed upon them following conviction”.

Kisten argued that the State’s case against the pair was "formidable,” which was an incentive for them to evade trial.

“The offences levelled against the applicants attract serious minimum sentences, and upon the acceptance of the imposition of such grave punishment, the applicants are likely to evade trial,” he said.

Magistrate Robinson adjourned the matter for later this week to hand down judgment.

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