R33,7 mln fraud: cou­ple out on bail

State claims duo ma­nip­u­lated chem­i­cal prices to win con­tract

Weekend Witness - - News - IN­GRID OELLERMANN

A LADY­SMITH busi­ness cou­ple, Yo­gen­thren and Pranitha Naidoo, fac­ing a R33,7 mil­lion fraud charge, parted with R80 000 cash yes­ter­day to se­cure their free­dom on bail.

The state has al­leged in its pro­vi­sional charge sheet that the cou­ple de­frauded Uthukela dis­trict mu­nic­i­pal­ity by ma­nip­u­lat­ing the ten­der process to se­cure ten­ders for the sup­ply of chem­i­cals re­quired to pu­rify drink­ing wa­ter in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

The cou­ple, who are par­ents of three young chil­dren, handed them­selves over to mem­bers of the com­mer­cial crimes unit at­tached to the Hawks yes­ter­day morn­ing in re­sponse to a sum­mons.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer Brad Swift said in an af­fi­davit he did not fear that the cou­ple would ab­scond, nor in­ter­fere with the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which is al­most com­plete.

He, how­ever, asked that bail be set at about R50 000 in light of the huge amount in­volved.

The cou­ple were ac­com­pa­nied to court by their Pi­eter­mar­itzburg at­tor­ney, Sergie Brim­iah, whose sug­ges­tion that bail be set at R50 000 for Yo­gen­thren and R30 000 for Pranitha Naidoo, was ac­cepted by the court.

The cou­ple ap­peared un­easy about the me­dia at­ten­tion and con­tin­u­ally looked over their shoul­ders as they sat await­ing their court ap­pear­ance. They also did their best to avoid Wit­ness pho­tog­ra­pher Shan Pil­lay.

Both said in af­fi­davits handed to mag­is­trate F. Moola they in­tend plead­ing not guilty to the charge against them.

The state al­leges in its pro­vi­sional charge sheet that Yo­gen­thren Naidoo owns a busi­ness, Ace Mo­tor Spares, and that his wife is the sole mem­ber of Square­hill In­vest­ments 1CC, which is trad­ing as Mapchem.

It is al­leged that as part of the process to pro­vide pu­ri­fied drink­ing wa­ter to the lo­cal com­mu­nity, Uthukela ob­tains chem­i­cals from ser­vice providers who are re­quired to ten­der for the con­tract to sup­ply them.

Be­tween 2006 and 2011, Mapchem won ten­ders to­talling R33 786 122.

The state al­leges that in or­der to swing the ten­der process in their favour the ac­cused had made a num­ber of mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to Uthukela, in­clud­ing quot­ing prices that were much lower than the fair mar­ket price for the chem­i­cals.

Af­ter se­cur­ing the ten­der they al­legedly in­creased the prices to far higher than the mar­ket norm by fraud­u­lently claim­ing that their own sup­plier, Sud­chemy, had in­creased their prices nec­ces­si­tat­ing an in­crease in the agreed con­tract price.

The case was post­poned to March 27 next year.

PHOTO: SHAN PIL­LAY

Yo­gen­thren Naidoo at the Lady­smith Mag­is­trate’s Court yes­ter­day.

PHOTO: SHAN PIL­LAY

Pranitha Naidoo.

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