Accountant Bronkhorst accused of N$103m fraudulent loan scheme

Michael Bronkhorst

Accountant and insurance consultant Michael Hough Bronkhorst is being accused of fraud and theft involving N$103 million in an affidavit filed at the Windhoek High Court.

A company claiming to have uncovered the fraudulent loan scheme has obtained a provisional court order for the sequestration of the personal estate of the Windhoek-based chartered accountant.

The affidavit by lawyer Heinrich Jansen van Vuuren was filed at the court in support of an urgent application by the company Petrichor Capital for the sequestration of Bronkhorst’s estate.

Acting judge Beatrix de Jager granted a provisional order for the sequestration of Bronkhorst’s estate after hearing the application last week. The order is in force until 17 April at this stage.

In the court’s order, Bronkhorst has been given time until 17 April to show why his personal estate should not be placed under a final sequestration order.

Bronkhorst did not respond to email and cellphone text messages which The Namibian sent to him this week, and calls to his cellphone number also went unanswered.

In his sworn statement, Van Vuuren said Petrichor Capital, of which he is the sole director, advances loans to insurance policyholders as part of its business.

Borrowers offer their alternative risk transfer short-term insurance policies (ART policies) as security for the loans they receive from Petrichor Capital by ceding the proceeds of their ART policies to the company, Van Vuuren said.

He informed the court that Bronkhorst has been instrumental in sourcing business for Petrichor, as he has been the main point of contact between the company and ART policyholders who obtained loans through Petrichor.

Van Vuuren stated that Bronkhorst’s “illegal scheme” started to unravel about three weeks ago, when an ART policyholder contacted an insurance company with a request to make a withdrawal from his policy with the company.

The policyholder was advised that he could not make a withdrawal, because the policy had been ceded to Petrichor as security for a loan extended to a close corporation, BV Investments 856 CC.

However, the policyholder denied that he ever took out a loan with Petrichor or signed any session of his ART policy in favour of Petrichor, Van Vuuren recounted.

When a signed loan agreement was forwarded to the policyholder, he stated that the signatures on the agreement were forged.
Van Vuuren said he had a meeting with Bronkhorst, who was accompanied by a legal representative, on 4 March and the next day.

During the second meeting, Bronkhorst’s lawyer informed him there were various loans with Petrichor that were initiated by Bronkhorst and which he used to procure funds for himself, Van Vuuren stated.

The lawyer confirmed in Bronkhorst’s presence “that the fake loan accounts diverted by [Bronkhorst’s] scheme for his own use amounted to approximately N$103,6 million,” Van Vuuren recorded.

He continued that the lawyer also informed him that Bronkhorst’s assets have a realisable valued of about N$38 million. The assets include a cattle feedlot, a farm estimated to be valued at about N$27 million and which has a bond of about N$16 million registered in favour of a bank, and a house in the upmarket Klein Windhoek area of Windhoek that has an estimated value of N$5,3 million, but on which there is also a bond for its full value.

Van Vuuren said during the second meeting Bronkhorst acknowledged that he owed an amount of N$103,6 million to Petrichor and offered to repay this money.

However, Van Vuuren added, it was “abundantly clear” that Bronkhorst is not able to repay the amount of N$103,6 million.

Van Vuuren also informed the court that Bronkhorst “never admitted any specifically labelled criminal wrongdoing”.

He said Bronkhorst proposed a scheme for the repayment of the money owed to Petrichor, but also suggested that the company should advance an additional loan to him for his business plan to be successful.

“It was not fathomable that Petrichor would become the financier of the person who stole money from it,” Van Vuuren commented.

He submitted that Bronkhorst is factually insolvent, with his liabilities exceeding the fair value of his assets by far.

Van Vuuren added that he believed Bronkhorst has not disclosed all of his assets and that there must be more bank accounts in which he is storing the proceeds of his activities.

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