There was yet another delay in the case involving two Durban bankers who are alleged to have run a multi-million rand Ponzi scheme in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
While a high-powered legal team arrived to represent Brandon Naicker, aka Muruvan Egambaram, at court for the bail application, his co-accused, Abraham “Jason” Pillay, had no representation as he had yet to provide Legal Aid with the required bank statements to prove he could not afford to hire a private attorney.
While he indicated to the court that he would represent himself, he was advised against it by the presiding magistrate, who informed him that the charges against him were serious and that it was a Schedule 5 offence.
Pillay told the court that he could get his bank statements from his banking app on his phone, which was taken by police and was in the evidence safe at Hillcrest police station. The court then gave permission for the investigating officer to take his wife to the police to retrieve the phone, pull the bank statements from his banking app, and provide them to Legal Aid.
After the lunch adjournment, the matter proceeded, and the bank statements were handed over to Legal Aid, who had to make a decision on whether or not to provide Pillay with legal representation.
The magistrate postponed the matter until Tuesday for Legal Aid to make a decision and for the court to decide whether the bail application for both accused should be separated.
Naicker and Pillay ran the insurance brokerage firms called Infinitii and Branson Capital, respectively, and are in court for allegedly defrauding an investor of R2 million.
They are, however, under investigation for fleecing scores of investors out of more than R180 million, involving approximately 160 cases.
At the court appearance on Monday, detectives from the Hawks, who are investigating the alleged Ponzi scheme, were present to monitor proceedings.
There were also private attorneys who represented other alleged victims of the multi-million-rand scheme who kept a watching brief.
IOL exposed the alleged fraudulent operation allegedly led by Naicker, who is the founder of Infinitii, a financial services provider and insurance brokerage.
On his LinkedIn profile, he claimed to have expanded his business reach by acquiring a franchise brokerage, Nalai BlueStar, under the Sanlam umbrella, a notable achievement, as there are only 190 such franchises in South Africa.
Authorities suspect that Naicker and Pillay allegedly ran a massive Ponzi scheme that primarily targeted retirees and pensioners.
Investigations have uncovered at least 160 individual cases where investors, lured by the promise of high returns, entrusted their life savings and pensions to Naicker and Pillay. Investors were enticed by the prospect of receiving up to 3% monthly dividends on their initial investments with Branson Capital, supposedly backed by Infinitii's legitimate financial services provider registration.