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Pretoria - The businessman alleged to have stolen R53 million from the City of Tshwane’s bank account has been ordered by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court to hand over his passports.

Despite standing before the court for Schedule 5 offences of fraud, money laundering and corruption charges, Ivo Gunter Wegrostek, 63, pleaded with the court to not only grant him bail, but to also allow him to go on holiday with his family to the Seychelles.

Wegrostek, who has South African and Austrian passports, requested he be allowed to leave for the planned from December 26 and return on January 2.

Following this, he said within a day or two of returning, arrangements could be made with the investigating officer collect the passports.

It is alleged Wegrostek siphoned R53m from the City’s bank accounts on August 30.

The funds had allegedly been earmarked for the National Fund for Municipality Workers.

He was arrested on Wednesday following a special operation by the Hawks’s National Clean Audit Task Team, who conducted a search and seizure operation at his residence and business.

The team seized several computers, cellphones and debit cards, which the prosecutor said was part of the overwhelming evidence it had, proving Wegrostek was part of a big criminal syndicate operating across provincial and international borders.

The State alleged the stolen funds were thereafter laundered into several business and relatives’ bank accounts locally and internationally. It also requested his seven-day holiday trip plea be denied.

Despite this, the State indicated it would not be opposing his bail application but requested the court place stringent bail conditions in place.

For his defence, Wegrostek in his affidavit, alleged he had no knowledge of the source of the charges against him and intended to plead not guilty to the charges levelled against him.

He indicated he had been involved in business for 40 years and requested bail, as he had employees who were awaiting their salaries before the close of business for the year.

The court granted him bail of R100000, with conditions for him to hand in his South African and Austrian passports and to sign in at his nearest police station every day for the duration of the matter.

It also said he would not be allowed to go on holiday out of the country and could not leave the province for the duration of his matter, without notifying the investigating officer.

The case is to return to the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on February 26.

Pretoria News