Accountant in custody on fraud charges

Michael Bronkhorst

An accountant alleged to have been involved in a fraudulent loan scheme through which he obtained more than N$100 million is facing another 12 days in police custody, after appearing in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on two counts of fraud on Monday.

A brief first court appearance by Michael Bronkhorst (37) following his arrest on Thursday last week, ended on Monday with magistrate Jurina Hochobes postponing his case to 15 July for further investigations to be carried out by the police.

Before the case was postponed, public prosecutor Eric Naikaku said the state is opposed to bail being granted to Bronkhorst, because investigations are in an early stage, the charges are serious and the state is fearing he may interfere with the investigations if released on bail.

The position regarding bail will be reconsidered when Bronkhorst returns to court, Naikaku indicated.

Bronkhorst appeared before the magistrate on two counts of fraud, involving a total amount of about N$2,7 million.

In the two charges, the state is alleging that he committed fraud by providing his own bank account number under the guise of it being the account number of an entity named Momentum Trust.

After that, payments of N$1,7 million and N$1 million, respectively, which were meant for Momentum Trust, were made into Bronkhorst’s account, the state is alleging.

Bronkhorst, who is a chartered accountant and businessman, has been facing legal and financial troubles since March, when the company Petrichor Capital obtained a provisional order in the Windhoek High Court for the sequestration of his personal estate.

A High Court judge confirmed the provisional sequestration order on 17 April.

Petrichor Capital director Heinrich Jansen van Vuuren informed the court in a sworn statement that Bronkhorst has been instrumental in sourcing business for Petrichor, which advances loans to insurance policyholders as part of its business.

Van Vuuren alleged that an “illegal scheme” operated by Bronkhorst started to unravel early in March, when it was discovered there were various loans with Petrichor that were initiated by Bronkhorst and through which he procured funds for himself.

The loans were in the names of policyholders whose documents were forged by Bronkhorst, Van Vuuren claimed.

He also said during a meeting with Bronkhorst and a lawyer representing him on 5 March, the lawyer confirmed in Bronkhorst’s presence that he had used the names of various entities to procure about N$103,6 million for his own use.

Van Vuuren alleged that Bronkhorst acknowledged he owes N$103,6 million to Petricor Capital and offered to repay the money.

However, Bronkhorst is factually insolvent, with the realisable value of his assets amounting to about N$38 million and falling far short of the amount that he owes Petrichor Capital, Van Vuuren said in his affidavit.

Bronkhorst’s 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 stated.

Defence lawyer Hennie Krüger represented Bronkhorst during the court proceedings on Monday.

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