Businessman up for US$1m fraud

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Businessman up for US$1m fraud
 A Local businessman Luka Ignatius Fabris, who is a co-director of Spartan Security (Pvt) Ltd, yesterday appeared in court for allegedly defrauding a woman US$1 million she had invested with his company.

Yeukai Karengezeka-Court Correspondent 

A Local businessman Luka Ignatius Fabris, who is a co-director of Spartan Security (Pvt) Ltd, yesterday appeared in court for allegedly defrauding a woman US$1 million she had invested with his company, although he argues in his defence that the two had an arrangement to change a bank transfer into cash and that the value of the cash fell because of inflation.

Spartan is the first accused while Fabris is being charged in his personal capacity as one of the directors.

The trial commenced yesterday before Harare regional magistrate Mrs Feresi Chakanyuka .

Complainant Leigh Ann Patricia Rudland (53) led her evidence-in-chief yesterday when called by the State to testify. 

She told the court that she was referred to Fabris by his brother.

The State alleged that during 2019, Fabris, acting on behalf of his company approached Ms Rudland and told her that the company was involved in very profitable cattle ranching. 

He allegedly lured her to invest into the business and promised her that she would get two percent of her total investment every month.

Rudland, who had her money banked with her lawyers, instructed her lawyers to transfer some money into Fabris’ bank account so on March 21, 2019 Rudland’s lawyers transferred $4 800 000.

The two agreed that the money was equivalent to US$1 000 000 at the prevailing bank rate at that time. 

However, after Rudland made her investment she only received US$540 000 in total returns and thereafter Fabris stopped giving her dues and started giving her excuses.

Rudland made several efforts to engage Fabris who allegedly became evasive.

She decided to report the matter to the police after realising that she had been duped.

Fabris in his defence is denying the fraud charge arguing that he paid Rudland all her money and was no longer indebted to her.

He contends that the deal had nothing to do with any investment and was simply an arrangement with Spartan for Ms Rudland to convert $4,8 million electronic transfer into $4,8 million in local currency cash with a one percent deduction by Spartan. 

Fabris said Ms Rudland had to collect her cash in batches per her instructions and by the time she collected the last batch of cash, her money had lost value due to inflation and complainant started to demand compensation for the inflation inflicted loss, which directors of the company declined as it would amount to the unjust enrichment of the complainant.

Fabris contended that any dispute over what she had received and what she expected was thus a purely civil matter, but that she had missed the deadline for a civil suit. 

“This matter is at most civil and the complainant is aware of this and further the complainant is aware that the doors for recourse in the civil courts have been closed by prescription and now launches this desperate bid to effect debt collection through the criminal justice system. It is an abuse of the court process which ought to be dismissed with the due contempt it deserves”, reads part of his defence.

The State is represented by Mr Anesu Chirenje while Spartan and Fabris are represented by their lawyers Mr Joseph Nemaisa and Mr Msindo Hungwe.

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