File picture: Independent Media

Johannesburg - A Western Cape couple, behind a multi-million Ponzi scheme, was sentenced in the Thembalethu Regional Court for fraud and contravening the banks Act, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (known as the Hawks) said on Thursday.

Spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said 54-year-old Graeme Minne and his 52-year-old wife, Carolina Minne, duped unsuspecting victims between September 2002 and November 2009 into investing funds ranging from a minimum of R100 000 with promises of higher than usual returns on forex trading. 

"The victims were promised profits of up to 65 percent on annual basis. About R278 786 853 was amassed from almost 934 clients in the said period and the couple reportedly did limited trading (less than R 5 million) at a net loss. In a typical pyramid scheme fashion, they resorted to paying initial investors using new investors funds," Ramovha said.

"The Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Unit relentless investigations put a stop to the duo's lavish lifestyle and arrested them during 2009 culminating in this conviction. The two have been convicted for fraud and contravening section 11 read with sections 1 and 91(4) of the Banks Act, nr 94 of 1990."

Ramovha said Graeme was sentenced to 15 years effective imprisonment and Carolina was sentenced to three year house arrest or Correctional Supervision in terms of Section 276(1)(h). Both have been declared unfit to own firearms on Wednesday.