Stockbroking firm Simonis Storm alleges theft of shares worth N$9m

Liaan de Kock

The stockbroking firm Simonis Storm Securities says it has discovered that an ex-employee of the firm has fraudulently sold or transferred ownership of shares worth close to N$9 million belonging to Simonis Storm clients.

Simonis Storm Securities managing director Bruce Hansen says a criminal case against a former employee of the firm, Liaan de Kock, was registered with the police on 29 April, after it was discovered that shares belonging to clients of the firm had been sold without their authorisation and part of the proceeds of the sales were allegedly channelled into a bank account of De Kock.

Hansen made the allegations in a sworn statement in support of an urgent application by Simonis Storm and the company Purros Investments against De Kock, his wife, Jessé Strauss, and a Windhoek resident, Connie van Tonder.

Judge Claudia Claasen on Friday granted an order against Strauss in the urgent application.

Strauss was ordered not to deal in or handle 146 057 shares in Standard Bank Namibia Holdings until the investigation of the criminal case registered against De Kock has been completed.

According to Hansen, those shares belong to Purros Investments, but a share certificate for the shares has been issued in Strauss’ name, after De Kock allegedly had the shares transferred to her on 6 February this year without the approval of Purros Investments or Simonis Storm.

The 146 057 Standard Bank Namibia Holdings shares are worth about N$1,24 million at the current share price.

Hansen informed the court that De Kock was employed by Simonis Storm from August 2017 to 15 February this year.

Hansen related that on 11 April this year, the firm received an enquiry on behalf of a client who had not received dividends paid out by Capricorn Group, which owns Bank Windhoek and other subsidiaries.

According to Simonis Storm’s records, 350 000 Capricorn Group shares – currently worth about N$6,4 million – were recorded in the client’s account with the firm, but the company secretary of Capricorn Group reported that no shares were registered under the client’s name, Hansen stated.

When the matter was investigated, it was discovered that the last transaction recorded by Namibian Stock Exchange company Transfer Secretaries against the client’s Capricorn Group share certificate was the sale of 12 500 shares, Hansen said.

However, no entry for such a sale was recorded on the client’s account with Simonis Storm, Hansen added.

He said it was instead discovered that a sale of the same number of Capricorn Group shares was recorded under the account of one Connie van Tonder.

“After further scrutiny of the account, it was further identified that a number of unauthorised and fraudulent transactions were recorded against the C van Tonder account,” Hansen stated.

He said it was established that payments in a total amount of N$5,77 million had been made from a bank account of Simonis Storm to an account in Van Tonder’s name from 29 January 2021 to 14 February this year.

Transfer Secretaries’ record of transactions from the account of the Simonis Storm client who enquired about her Capricorn Group dividend payments correspond to payments made to Van Tonder’s account, Hansen said.

He added that Simonis Storm “holds a strong and justifiable suspicion” that De Kock fraudulently sold shares of clients of the firm, recorded it on Van Tonder’s account with the firm, and ensured that payments were then made to Van Tonder’s bank account.

Hansen also said it was established that a form that should have been signed by the owner of the 350 000 Capricorn Group shares when the shares were offered for sale was instead signed by De Kock, “effectively giving an instruction without the consent of the client”.

An investigation by Simonis Storm further revealed that De Kock received payments from Van Tonder’s bank account, Hansen added.

He said 39 cash transfers amounting to N$234 000 were made from Van Tonder’s bank account to De Kock’s bank account from 8 December last year to 18 January this year.

In addition to the transfer of the Standard Bank shares to his wife, De Kock is also alleged to have sold shares worth N$7,66 million under the name of Van Tonder, Hansen said.

De Kock and Strauss did not oppose the urgent application.

In brief affidavits filed at the court, they consented to an order to stop Strauss from dealing in the shares held in her name.

De Kock also stated that he confirmed the correctness of Hansen’s statement “in as far as it refers to actions taken by me in respect of the unlawful transfer of shares” of Purros Investments to Strauss, and confirmed that the shares rightfully belong to Purros Investments.

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