Accountant gets 12 years for R60m investment fraud, money laundering
Cape Town – The Bellville Specialised Commercial Crimes Court has sentenced a 67-year-old accountant, Petrus Serdyn Louw, to 12 years’ imprisonment.
’’After extensive and laborious investigation’’, Louw was convicted of 49 counts of fraud, forgery and uttering, and money laundering involving R60.6 million, which resulted in the complainants, some of whom were elderly, losing all their life and pension savings.
He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for the 49 counts of fraud, with three years suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted of fraud or theft or an attempt to commit any of the offences during the period of suspension, Eric Ntabazalila, the National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, said in a statement.
Louw was further sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for forgery and uttering, and three years’ imprisonment for money laundering.
The court ordered that the latter sentences run concurrently with the 12-year jail sentence and also declared him unfit to possess a firearm.
Louw was the director of Louw & Cronje Inc, chartered accountants and auditors trading from Voortrekker Road, Porterville.
He practised as an accountant and financial adviser for several investors and entities who had been investing and entrusting him with their funds. Louw had advised them to invest in property developments or in companies like Tomlo Commodities (Pty) Ltd, Staybond EC, Pholaco (Pty) Ltd and Umoya Energy.
He forwarded the investors different bank accounts in order for them to deposit their investments. As a result, investors and entities invested R60.6 million to be held in trust on behalf of and to the benefit of the investors and entities.
He told them the funds would be invested in bulk for better returns.
Louw then forged another bank account to which he transferred the deposited monies. He forged bank statements from the fictitious bank account, provided investors and entities with false bank statements purporting to be held by Louw Redelinghuys & Co with deposits held on behalf of the investors and entities.
In a plea and sentencing agreement, Louw told the court that he used bulk of the money in an attempt to save Pholaco (Pty) Ltd, which was in the process of negotiating a promising and profitable contract with the Angolan government but struggled to meet its monthly operating expenses.
Advocate Jannie Knipe said the offences were serious and impacted severely on the economy and the victims of the crimes.
“Louw abused the position of trust held with the complainants. Some of the complainants were elderly and as a result of the offences lost all their life and pension savings.
“The detection of the crimes was difficult and resulted in an extensive and laborious investigation,” he said.