PE fraud­ster cites wife, son in theft case

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - – ANA

A FORMER gen­eral man­ager of an auc­tion­eer­ing com­pany that op­er­ates na­tion­wide pleaded guilty in the Port Eliz­a­beth Com­mer­cial Crimes Court yes­ter­day to 13 counts of fraud in­volv­ing just over R1 mil­lion.

Fifty-one-year old Vincent Moss spent 15 years of his life at a Port Eliz­a­beth branch of Au­cor, a com­pany in the busi­ness of sell­ing, auc­tion­ing, val­u­a­tion and stor­age of prop­erty on be­half of pri­vate and cor­po­rate clients.

Moss was re­spon­si­ble for run­ning day-to-day op­er­a­tions, li­ais­ing with clients, procur­ing as­sets for auc­tions as well as auc­tion­ing off prop­erty for clients.

Dur­ing 2014 and last year, sev­eral clients en­trusted Moss with prop­erty to sell off or store; how­ever, Moss sold the prop­er­ties for his own ac­count and the cash from the sale was de­posited into his bank ac­count or a bank ac­count be­long­ing to his son, also called Vincent.

Dur­ing yes­ter­day’s court pro­ceed­ings, de­fence at­tor­ney Al­wyn Griebenow read out his client’s guilty plea.

Moss claimed that he was caught be­tween “two fires” as he was us­ing the money to pay for his son’s univer­sity tu­ition.

He said that the cash he stole from clients also fed his wife’s gam­bling ad­dic­tion.

Moss claimed that his wife, who has been di­ag­nosed as bipo­lar, had found out that he had been steal­ing from clients and threat­ened to call him out on the crime. “She waited for the money to be de­posited into the bank ac­count and would go to The Board­walk to gam­ble,” the plea read.

It also emerged that in 1982 he was found guilty of six counts of theft. At the time he was given five “hid­ings” as pun­ish­ment in ad­di­tion to a sus­pended jail sen­tence.

Griebenow said that his client was in a po­si­tion to pay back the money by means of his San­lam pen­sion and prov­i­dent funds and, while there was no other suit­able sen­tence other than di­rect im­pris­on­ment, he asked the court to be le­nient when pass­ing down sen­tence.

How­ever, State Ad­vo­cate Lise Keech ar­gued that it was a large amount of cash and the case was se­ri­ous, in­volv­ing one of the big­gest auc­tion houses in the coun­try.

Keech asked for the min­i­mum sen­tence of 15 years di­rect im­pris­on­ment to be im­posed.

“He is the master of his own fortune; the de­fence is say­ing that the ac­cused will pay back the money, but it does not work that way, it is not an ex­cuse to steal,” said Keech, adding that even if Moss at­tempted to pay back the money it would not cover the loss of over R1 mil­lion.

Mag­is­trate Lionel Lin­door post­poned the mat­ter un­til Jan­uary 26 for sen­tenc­ing.

GUILTY: Vincent Moss, the former gen­eral man­ager of Au­cor na­tion­wide auc­tion­eer­ing com­pany, who has been con­victed of 13 counts of fraud in­volv­ing more than R1 mil­lion.

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