The National Prosecuting Authority.

Cape Town - The National Prosecuting Authority praised the Paarl Regional Court on Tuesday for ordering that R1 million bail be forfeited to the State.

The bail paid by Marius van der Westhuizen, an accountant who was found guilty of tax fraud, was forfeited on the grounds that he committed suicide to avoid a prison sentence.

Van der Westhuizen was to have been sentenced on 69 counts of fraud involving R6 547 568.

He had also been found guilty of one count of fraud, based on his fraudulent misrepresentation to the SA Revenue Service, 14 counts involving the submission of false tax returns and 14 violations of the Public Accounts and Auditors Act.

Van der Westhuizen was responsible for the financial and tax affairs of the Oloff Hennig Boerdery Trust, as well as the business concerns of Oloff Hennig trading as Staweklip Estates.

Western Cape NPA spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said the forfeiture of Van der Westhuizen's bail was in line with policy not to allow a convicted fraudster, or his deceased estate, to benefit from fraud.

Though Van der Westhuizen had avoided a prison sentence by committing suicide, the State ensured that his bail was forfeited to it, he said.

Ntabazalila said Sars had suffered heavy financial loss because of the frauds, which had not been repaid.

“Under the circumstances, it was only fair that the bail should not be refunded to Van der Westhuizen's deceased estate.”

Van der Westhuizen committed suicide in August 2011 the day he was to have been sentenced.

The NPA launched an application for the forfeiture of the bail to the State, and the proceedings included a suicide note in which Van der Westhuizen said he was not prepared to serve a prison sentence.

Judgment in the application was handed down on Friday last week.

Van der Westhuizen had a previous conviction dating back to 1988, when the Western Cape High Court jailed him for 10 years on 88 counts of fraud.

This previous conviction would have assured Van der Westhuizen of a second prison sentence.

In the Hennig case, Ntabazalila said, Van der Westhuizen had fraudulently obtained tax refunds on behalf of the two companies, without the knowledge of Oloff Hennig himself.

Van der Westhuizen had then channelled the refunds into his own personal bank account. - Sapa