Woman lost R300 000 in property scam

A woman tourist who played golf on Pollsmoor Prison's driving range lost R300 000 after being duped by prison inmate Maurice de Grandhomme, the Wynberg Regional Court has been told.

The scam allegedly involved the purchase of property at the De Zalze Golf Estate in Stellenbosch.

De Grandhomme, 49, well known in golfing circles, was serving seven years for fraud and exchange control violations when he met tourist Mariana Fergusson at the range.

Although he told her he was in prison for violations of the Exchange Control Act, he did not tell her of the fraud conviction.

Because of his golfing expertise, he had been assigned by prison authorities to take charge of the kiosk at the driving range, where he also gave free instruction to golfing enthusiasts.

De Grandhomme has pleaded not guilty before magistrate Bruce Langa to 11 fraud charges and seven violations of the Companies Act.

With him in the dock is former accountant Brian Lombard, 68, who has pleaded not guilty to nine fraud charges and seven contraventions of the Companies Act.

De Grandhomme and Lombard met while serving sentences at Pollsmoor.

Scorpions prosecutor Razia Valley-Omar told the court that Lombard's registration as an auditor lapsed at the end of 1998, and a criminal conviction for fraud disqualified him from acting as an accountant or auditor.

It was alleged at De Grandhomme's bail application two years ago that, while serving the seven years for fraud, he used the internet in prison to devise scams to fleece golf enthusiasts of millions of rand at the golf range.

Valley-Omar claimed in court on Wednesday that, while they were in prison, De Grandhomme and Lombard acted together in common purpose to defraud four unsuspecting people, including Fergusson.

Three of the fraud charges they face involve applications for finance.

Valley-Omar alleged that De Grandhomme and Lombard set up or acquired control of various South African companies, with which to do property transactions.

Although they kept control of the companies themselves, they appointed a number of people to serve as directors, she said.

One of the companies they acquired was Sovereign Seekers (Pty) Ltd, which they renamed Eagle and Stix.

They appointed Fergusson as its director.

The two men were rearrested in September 2006, after De Grandhomme's release from prison.

The trial continues. - Sapa

This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Times on May 22, 2008 - www.capetimes.co.za