Auc­tion­eer cared for PA who stole R1m ‘like a god’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

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

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