The Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court yesterday denied bail to a former Free State broker, Pieter Duvenhage, facing fraud charges amounting to an estimated R200 million.
The case against Duvenhage (41) was postponed to March 31 for further investigation. He remains in custody.
Police investigator Colonel Ntsi Mokoena testified during the bail hearing that Duvenhage could be a flight risk.
He said while the liquidators and auditors were busy winding up his estate, Duvenhage disappeared to London.
"He knew there was a criminal case and the liquidation process at the time. We believe he tried to evade a trial" Mokoena said.
Mokoena further said when Duvenhage returned to South Africa later he did not inform anybody of his whereabouts until investors suspected he was back in the country and informed police.
Duvenhage was arrested in October in Cape Town, for allegedly running a fraudulent investment scheme.
Mokoena said Duvenhage's passport indicated he travelled out of the country regularly. The police investigator said he received calls from an investor who said if police do not do something about Pieter Duvenhage, he might get hurt.
Police could only find Duvenhage after his cellphone was traced.
Counsel for the State, Advocate Alnicia Coetzee submitted police could not establish a fixed address where he would stay in Bloemfontein, if granted bail.
Duvenhage's lawyer Michael Lombard contested this and submitted that Duvenhage gave police the address where he was staying with a friend in Cape Town.
In support of bail, Lombard submitted that due to the seizure of Duvenhage's assets he had no choice but to stay with friends and family.
The liquidators had seized his townhouse in Bloemfontein, but he had an apartment in London, which he rented out.
When Duvenhage went to London in June, it had nothing to do with the criminal investigation against him. He was not aware of it at the time, he submitted.
According to the State's preliminary charge sheet, Duvenhage faces 74 counts of fraud, filed by 34 investors. An estimated R18 million was involved in the first 22 counts.
Magistrate O. Majozi said Duvenhage was a flight risk, and that it would not be a proper function of justice if he were released on bail.
The investigation relates to two close corporations Duvenhage allegedly ran as a broker. The investment scheme was liquidated in the Free State High Court in May this year. - Sapa