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Court orders fraudster to pay back victims or face 10-years imprisonment

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CAPE TOWN – The Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court has sentenced Martin Smuts (48), to 10 years imprisonment for defrauding victims in an apparent bogus investment scheme of approximately R6-million.

Smuts was arrested on 7 November 2014, by the Hawks’ serious commercial crime unit after investigations revealed that in the course of 2010 and 2012, he claimed to represent a renowned investment entity, Russelstone EDI, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). He deceitfully presented himself to prospective investors, as its’ broker.

He would convince the victims to make deposits into an investment portfolio account he had with the said entity. Russelstone EDI, cooperated fully with hawks investigations, as they were unaware that Smuts had asked private persons to make deposits into his investment account.

Smuts then made a transfer request of the said funds and diverted them into his own personal account, from where he would then pay the victims interest on their ‘savings’, using their own funds without their knowledge, and spent some of the money in the process.

Funds eventually dried up, and there were no more monthly payments being made which resulted in complaints being laid by about 8 of his victims which included a well-known South African television actress.

On Monday, 11, December 2017 the accused was sentenced on 24 of counts fraud, contraventions of sections of the Banks Act and Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act.

Smuts was convicted to 10 years, suspended for 5 years on condition that he repay R2.5 million of which R1 million deposit is today, failure of which will mean effective jail term with immediate effect.