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Fidentia fraudster’s sentence welcomed

By Staff Writer
The Supreme Court of Appeal overturned the "overly lenient" sentence handed down by the Western Cape High Court to J Arthur Brown, former CEO of Fidentia. On appeal the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was able to have his initial R150, 000 fine or 36 month prison sentence upgraded to a 15 year jail sentence.
 
Many have welcomed the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein's decision. Dube Tshidi, executive officer at the Financial Services Board (FSB), said that Brown's previous sentence of a R150 000 fine or 36 months in prison, was too lenient.
 
"The previous sentence simply did not acknowledge the severity of Brown's crime and the significant impact his actions had on thousands of poor South Africans," said Tshidi.
 
Pleased with appeal
 
Tshidi added that the FSB was pleased with the outcome of the appeal.
 
"We are extremely pleased that the court has recognised this and instead decided to impose a custodial sentence of 15 years for each of the two counts for which he was charged. This is a great day for South Africa's justice system and for our citizens. It shows that no matter who you are, if you break the law, you will be prosecuted – and sentenced appropriately," said Tshidi.
 
Trade federation Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (Cosatu) welcomed the verdict, saying that "this must serve as a clear indication to fund managers that they are going to be put in jail for corruption and for stealing from the poor."
 
However, Cosatu added that the 15 year sentence was still not enough for the crimes committed.
 
"This 15 year jail sentence is still too low for the hardships that he caused and we must investigate who else was involved in the criminal acts, so that they can also be brought to book," said Cosatu.
 
The charges
 
Brown was convicted of two fraud charges relating to his handling of investments for the Transport Education and Training Authority (Teta), and the Mantadia Asset Trust Company (Matco) between 2002 and 2006.
 
Brown had originally faced 192 charges of fraud, according to Fin24.
 
He was convicted last year after he pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud which allowed him access to funds intended for the beneficiaries of Matco. Later Matco, a provident fund for orphans and widows of mine workers, was renamed the Living Hands Umbrella Trust by Fidentia. The Trust claims that R1.3 billion of its funds went missing.
 
"This judgement attests to the quality of the investigations conducted by the FSB. On the strength of what was uncovered by our team, Brown not only admitted to the crimes he committed but also acknowledged that these were 'not mickey mouse charges'. The initial decision to fine him was truly ill-conceived. We are very pleased that our justice system has now acknowledged the seriousness of this case and acted to sentence Brown appropriately," said the FSB.

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