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A more than decade-long fraud and money laundering case against international diamond dealer Sylla Moussa could be coming to an end, with the embattled gem trader filing representations to have the case withdrawn.

Moussa made local headlines in 2014 during a legal battle between himself and businessman Zunaid Moti.

Both were claiming ownership of a pink diamond worth more than $50 million (R673m).

Moussa had allegedly signed over the diamond as payment to Moti for an extensive debt, claims which Moussa denied at the time.

However, the diamond dealer spoke to the Saturday Star this week at his criminal proceedings, claiming he had regained ownership of the gem, and that the current case against him was deeply flawed.

Moussa is accused of defrauding Absa Bank of more than R40m 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.

However, yesterday, Moussa told the Saturday Star that 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.

The Saturday Star has seen a copy of this agreement. Moussa admitted that while he had paid back the money, R500000 of the lawyers’ fees he owed was still outstanding.

At the High Court in Joburg yesterday, prosecutor Nerisha Naidoo told the court that Moussa had promised to pay the outstanding amount, once funds appeared in his account following his trade of a R10m diamond.

The case was postponed to the end of the month to allow the payment to be made. Moussa insisted that because of the agreement reached, the criminal charges against him were set to be withdrawn.

He then refused to speak about the representations he had made to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

However, the Saturday Star understands through sources at the National Prosecuting Authority that it is still up to the DPP’s office to determine if the case would be withdrawn.

This would only be after it had examined the representations he had already submitted, which it had thus far refused to do because of the outstanding R500000 owed to Absa’s lawyers.

“Just because the civil claim has been resolved does not mean the criminal charges just go away,” one source said.

The Saturday Star