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Four arrested for alleged pension fund fraud

16 March 2006 Mail & Guardian Online

Four men have appeared in the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court in connection with a series of thefts that cost nine pension funds R213-million, police said on Wednesday.

Aubrey Hendley Wynne-Jones of Westcliffe was released on bail of R700 000, Anthony Edward Dixon-Seager of Edenvale was freed on a bond of R250 000, Peter Neville Martin of Dainfern bought his freedom for R50 000 and Neil van Hees of Emmarentia paid R100 000 for his release. All are aged between 60 and 70.

They were arrested at their homes on Tuesday night and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, theft and money laundering.

The arrests follow the detention of investment banker Peter Ghavalas in September last year. He was released on bail of R1-million.

The court appearance was the result of an investigation begun in 2002, police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said.

She said the group identified pension funds with a high surplus and then in one way or another got involved with the fund and then defrauded pensioners of the surplus. The money was then divided between them.

Pension funds defrauded included the Mitchell Cotts Pension Fund, Jacaranda Pension Fund, Lucas SA Pension Fund, Sable Industrial Pension Fund, Picbel-Groep Voorsorgfonds, Datakor Pension Fund, Datakor Retirement Fund, Cortech Pension Fund, and the Power Pack Pension Fund.

All five are to reappear in court on August 1.

More arrests were expected, Martins-Engelbrecht said. Also on trial are two companies, Soundprops 178 and Wynne-Jones & Company Employee Benefits Consultants.

The Financial Services Board earlier said the investigation followed an inspection of the Mitchell Cotts Pension Fund, following a complaint lodged by one of its pensioners regarding the fund's management by its trustees.

Ghavalas, who had been living in Australia for the past 10 years, was arrested when he came to South Africa to visit a family member, the FSB said. - Sapa

This article was extracted from Mail & Guardine Online - 16 March 2006

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