Ponzi pair convicted

Western Cape couple Graeme and Carolina Minne lost their luxury cars‚ now they might swap their designer clothes for prison garb after being convicted for running a R278-million Ponzi scheme, writes Philani Nombembe.

They will know their fate in September when the sentencing procedures resume. Their assets totaling R12-million were seized in 2009‚ including R6-million in bank accounts.

Graeme’s black Lamborghini – with a number plate that read “Unreal” – was confiscated at Christmas in 2009 after his bank account was frozen and he could not pay the installments. The couple owned two luxury homes on the Garden Route‚ one in Mossel Bay and one in Hartenbos.

“About R278.7-million was amassed from almost 934 clients in the said period and the couple reportedly did limited trading (less than R5-million) at a net loss and then in a typical pyramid scheme fashion‚ they resorted to paying initial investors using new investors’ funds‚” said Captain Lloyd Romovha‚ spokesman for the Hawks in the Western Cape‚ on Monday.

“Hawks’s Serious Commercial Crime Unit’s relentless investigations put a stop to the duo’s lavish lifestyle and arrested them during 2009 culminating in this conviction.”

Major-General Nombuso Khoza‚ the provincial head of the Hawks‚ welcomed the conviction.

“The public is hereby reminded to avoid putting their hard earned money at risk by investing with illegitimate investment schemes‚” said Khoza. “Anything that looks too good to be‚ it usually is.”

The couple’s bail of R50‚000 each was extended.

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