Trial date set for DRC general’s missing millions

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-A court date has been set for the criminal trial of embattled coastal estate agent Erwin Sprangers, 58, and his wife Lorinda, who face charges of fraud and theft by false pretences over N$6.7 million allegedly stolen from a Congolese general who had wanted to buy property at the coast.

Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa has decided to charge the Sprangers couple criminally in the High Court over the alleged disappearance of the money.

Judge Christi Liebenberg, who was allocated the trial, informed the Sprangers yesterday that the earliest their trial can start is October 17 this year, it being the only time his and the State and defence lawyers’ diaries correspond. The judge set down the trial for October 17 to October 27. The Sprangers will be represented by Advocate Louis Botes and the State by Advocate Erich Moyo.

Erwin Sprangers alone faces a charge of fraud, but together with his wife faces five charges of theft by conversion, alternatively theft.

The matter arises from a business transaction between the Sprangers and Democratic Republic of Congo Army General, Francois Olenga, during January, 2010 when it was allegedly agreed that Olenga would deposit US$900,000 into the trust account of the Sprangers’ estate agency, Kintcher Estates, as trust money for the development of two properties the general owned at the coast, or for the acquisition of further properties for Olenga.

According to the charge sheet, the money was to be held in trust for Olenga and could only be used for purposes approved by Olenga and would immediately be paid back to Olenga on request.

According to the summary of substantial facts in the indictment, Erwin Sprangers agreed with Olenga that Olenga would pay funds into his bank account for the purpose of developing Olenga’s properties in Namibia. But he then misrepresented to Olenga that should Olenga avail the said funds, he (Sprangers) would hold and keep in trust such funds on behalf of Olenga.

The State further alleges that Sprangers misrepresented to Olenga that he would only spend the funds on “expenditure expressly approved” (prior to spending) by Olenga and would upon demand pay back the funds to Olenga. During the period extending from February 10, 2010 to July 6, 2010, the complainant’s funds totalling N$6.7 million were transferred by Breadfield Trade Ltd on the instructions of Olenga in five tranches into the Kintscher Estate Agents and Auctioneers’ First National Bank banking account, with number 554 6004 0542. The banking details, purported to be that of the accused’s trust bank account, whilst actually those of a business account, were supplied to the Olenga by Sprangers, the indictment reads.

It further said both one of the Sprangers couple had signature rights on the account. According to the State, once the money was in their said bank account, the Sprangers couple, between February 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010 stole or misappropriated it and/or converted all of the general’s money to their own use.

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