Auctioneer cared for PA who stole R1m ‘like a god’
ELDERLY auctioneer Julius Buchinsky looked after his personal assistant “like a god”, his wife Alma told the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime court yesterday.
Alma Buchinsky, 76, was testifying for the State in the presentencing proceedings of Najwa Taliep, who was Buchinsky’s personal assistant for 13 years.
Taliep, who had pleaded guilty to 631 counts of fraud involving R961 081, is to be sentenced by magistrate Abrina Sonnenberg.
Questioned by prosecutor Zama Matayi, Buchinsky’s wife told the court that the embezzlement, between January 2008 and December 2010, led to severe cash flow problems for the business.
At the time, Buchinsky, now 83, did not know the cause of the cash flow problems, said Alma who was testifying in aggravation of sentence.
His wife told the court: “My husband’s cash flow problems got worse and worse, until he decided to sell out to Leno De Villiers in 2009.”
She said Taliep continued to work for the Julius Buchinsky Organisation, as personal secretary to De Villiers, while Buchinsky himself focused on a new business he had started.
The prosecutor asked how the embezzlement affected her husband.
“He couldn't believe that Taliep had done this to him. He looked after her like a god. For a long time he was low and didn’t want to see people, but he eventually managed to get over it,” she said.
She said Buchinsky’s new business, Jay Bee Executive Card, focused on giving shoppers discounts, but was making slow progress.
“My husband’s drop in income, to about R12 000 per month, was tremendous.”
She said: “I don’t know how much he made from auctioneering, but he earned commissions.”
She added that Buchinsky knew nothing about banking, and had left it all to Taliep.
Legal Aid attorney Hayley Lawrence for Taliep told the court the defence disputed both the severity of the misappropriation, and that it caused the cash flow problems.
“My husband wanted to get rid of the business because it wasn’t making money anymore,” Alma said. She had had to lend him money to run the auctioneering business during the cash flow crisis.
Buchinsky offered the business to De Villiers, and had encouraged him to take it over.
De Villiers bought the business because he knew the Buchinsky name was strong, she said.
She told the court her husband had cancer and could not attend the court proceedings because his ill health prevented him from driving.
Asked about her own financial strength, she said she had inherited from her father.
Taliep had two personal bank accounts with FNB, and fraudulently transferred amounts totalling R961 081 into her own bank accounts, from accounts in the names of Julius Buchinsky Organisation, SA Sale Promotions and Julius Buchinsky.
To cover her tracks, she reflected these fraudulent transfers as payments to the Buchinsky clients or as day-today expenses.
Testimony in mitigation of sentence will be led next week.– Sapa