The late Amichand Rajbansi’s son found guilty of R3million fraud
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Durban: The son of the late politician Amichand Rajbansi, was not a happy man after he was found guilty of R3 million fraud at the Durban Regional Court on Tuesday.
Vimal Rajbansi along with North West businessman Gideon Pretorius, was charged with fraud relating to a 2010 business deal involving the sale of office equipment.
Their co-accused Younus Patel, a Durban North businessman, died earlier this year.
According to the state, Brainwave Projects represented by Rajbansi secured finance for their client Ditona Construction in November 2010 with Merchant West , a company that provides asset finance.
Pretorius served as the director of Ditona while Rajbansi was an agent for Brainwave Projects.
According to the State, the men financed office equipment for Ditona from Merchant West on a rental/lease agreement.
Merchant West financed the deal for Ditona and maintained ownership of the equipment.
Two months later, Merchant West learnt Ditona was being liquidated and attempted to recover the equipment before it was taken by the liquidators.
It was then discovered that the equipment had already been secured by another company, Rentworks, in terms of a similar agreement.
Rentworks was not implicated in the fraud matter.
Rajbansi and Pretorius were charged in 2011 and subsequently released on bail of R25 000 each.
It has taken a decade for the matter to be finalised, something the magistrate found was unnecessary.
"Even when the trial started (in 2017), frivolous applications were made by the defence. It was a clear case of justice delayed is justice denied."
The state called eleven witnesses. Earlier this year Pretorius and Rajbansi represented themselves and took the stand to argue why they were not guilty.
On Tuesday, Magistrate Judy Naidoo accepted the evidence of state witnesses and found that it was not materially disputed or challenged.
In evaluating the evidence of the accused, she said she found them competent in presenting their case and aptly prepared.
However, she found both witnesses evasive and inconsistent, and said that they repeatedly tailored their evidence to suit their versions.
In assessing Pretorius' evidence she said: "He kept tailoring his evidence as to what could have happened to the equipment. The court found that most of his explanations were unsubstantiated by the actual evidence presented to this court."
She said Rajbansi's evidence was inconsistent and improbable. She said she could not understand why he changed his version several times.
"He made a concerted effort to tailor his evidence to salvage his credibility at the expense of the truth. He was very evasive and contradicted himself. He also could not explain the various discrepancies and shortcomings in his evidence. It was so highly improbable that it was devoid of the truth.
“Naidoo found both men guilty of fraud.
After judgment was handed down, Rajbansi thanked the magistrate for her ruling but said he was not happy.
"I don't agree with your judgment and would like to appeal."
Naidoo said he could not appeal at this stage, only after sentencing.
Rajbansi subsequently asked for time to prepare ahead of sentencing. The case was then adjourned to February 2022.
Meanwhile, Chris Shipley, the then CEO of Merchant West KZN and Paul Buckle, the CEO of Merchant West, said the judgement was “bittersweet”.
"I have mixed feelings. It's good to know that the fraud charges have finally been issued. It's been a very frustrating process dealing with this because Vimal and his cohorts have done nothing but delay justice."
"But I'm glad we were vindicated that it was fraud. It cost us a lot of money and we suffered significant losses during this time but at least justice has been served. I'll be appeased with at least 15 years imprisonment just for the disrespect shown for the law as well as the arrogance."
Shipley said it was time the accused were held accountable.
"They strung this thing long enough and they had to have their day in court where they are accountable. They have taken the law lightly, all the delaying tactics and its time."