Durban - Construction firm managing director Elias Vasilaki Mechanicos is facing a fraud charge involving R3.4 million relating to the sale of vehicles to another company.

Mechanicos, 47, of Glenashley, was arrested by Pinetown police last Tuesday and appeared in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court last Wednesday.

The State did not oppose his release and he was granted bail of R200 000 by magistrate Wendy Robinson.

Mechanicos, who has Cyprian and South Africa passports, was also warned by the court to surrender both and to report to the Durban North police station once a week.

According to the charge sheet, Mechanicos, who is the sole shareholder and managing director of Elias Mechanicos Building (EMB), concluded a lease to purchase agreement with Bryant van der Merwe of Unocor Construction between June 2012 and November last year for 11 construction vehicles.

The vehicles included a crane truck, excavators, tractors and trailers.

According to the State, it is alleged that in terms of the agreement, Van der Merwe paid Mechanicos R3.4m, which was to be paid to Wesbank and Nedbank, which had financed the purchase of the vehicles.

The State alleges that Mechanicos did not pay the money to the banks but instead used it for “his personal gain”.

Mechanicos told The Mercury on Monday there had been “no fraud on the part of EMB or myself”.

He said that the criminal charges were an “attempt to exert undue pressure” on his company and himself to pay a disputed amount of R100 000 which Unocor claimed was owed. He said that the case was an “obvious civil dispute” and the lease agreement provided for disputes to be resolved by arbitration. He confirmed that a lease agreement with offer to purchase was made with Unocor in 2012. The agreement said that at the end of the lease installments, the equipment would be transferred to Unocor.

But Mechanicos said at the end of the lease there was a dispute over money due by Unocor, and so EMB did not transfer ownership of the last excavator to Unocor.

He said he intended taking further action against Unocor for “unlawful and malicious prosecution”.

The Mercury