Picture: Jennifer Bruce/INLSA

The tide may have turned for embattled diamond dealer Sylla Moussa as it appears the bank that accused him of fraud no longer wishes to prosecute, and his business rival has been arrested overseas. 

Moussa is accused of defrauding Absa Bank of more than R40million in 2006 over six weeks using a technique known as “kite-flying” or “cheque kiting”. 

This involves taking advantage of non-existent funds in a checking account, with cheques used as unauthorised credit. 

Moussa has, on numerous occasions, told the Saturday Star he had simply failed to pay his overdraft because of a lack of financial liquidity at the time, and that an agreement had already been reached with the bank to pay back R23.5m alongside a further R1m for the bank’s legal fees. 

As of this week, both of these payments had been made. However, the Saturday Star has learnt from two sources linked to the case that management at Absa have said they no longer wish to prosecute Moussa, even after maintaining the case for more than a decade. 

It’s also understood that some of the investigators and complainants who worked at the bank at the time of the alleged fraud are no longer employed by the institution, further complicating a potential prosecution. 

But the decision over whether to drop the charges remains with the National Prosecuting Authority, which is currently analysing representations made by Moussa’s legal team requesting that the case be dropped. 

It’s understood a decision on whether to continue prosecuting or not should be made by Moussa’s next court appearance this month. 

Moussa first made local headlines in 2014 during a legal battle between himself and businessman Zunaid Moti, with both claiming ownership of a massive pink diamond worth more than $50m (approx. R762 million). 

While the diamond was eventually returned to Moussa, according to him, Moti was arrested last month in Germany on numerous charges, including some related to the alleged pink diamond theft. 

The businessman stands accused of defrauding a Russian citizen of millions through an alleged fraudulent mining deal, as well as the diamond theft. Moti was reported to have been placed under provisional arrest on August 19 while trying to leave Germany.

The Saturday Star