Bust! How a KZN sleuth sniffed out a R41m swindle
Two Verulam women allegedly cooked the books and bought luxury property with the proceeds
When private investigator Sean Pierce was hired to investigate missing money from Niven Clothing Manufacturers in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, he was told an estimated R1.6-million had disappeared.
But it soon became clear to him the fraud was way more extensive than that – as extensive as R41-million, to be precise.
“We came on board when there was only R1.6-million missing and what we found from then on was simply startling,” Pierce told Times Select.
“We found evidence [allegedly] that the employee in this matter was slipping these fraudulent invoices into a stack of legitimate ones and they were just getting paid,” he said.
Further investigations revealed the theft went as far back as 2013.
“These invoices were as much as R200,000 a week and we established that this had been happening since 2013,” he added. “It would go into the account one day and the next day it would be drawn out in cash and that is a massive amount,” Pierce said.
The alleged masterminds, Varusha Ramdeen, 35, and Zarina Banu Amod, 58, were arrested by the Hawks this month and appeared in court on Friday. They are accused of channelling R41-million out of the business in ghost payments.
Pierce said they had monitored Ramdeen and Amod once they had established where money siphoned from the company was going.“We found this house in Neptune Drive in Riet Rivier and it stood out because this place is like a palace compared to the ones around it. It was easy to see [allegedly] where the money was landing up.”
Pierce said the nature of the relationship between the two women was yet to be revealed.
“Once we felt like we had strong evidence we took this to the police and the Hawks have taken over. They took their time and did a comprehensive job and now we have some people in court,” he said.
Ramdeen and Amod applied for bail in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, and were released on R40,000 and R60,000 bail respectively.
The state held that Ramdeen, using her position as an accountant at Niven Clothing Manufacturers, had quietly channelled lump sum payments disguised as purchases to Amod, who is alleged to have withdrawn R35-million in cash over five years.
Pierce said he was retained by the company in February after the directors received a tip that money was being drained from the accounts.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the Hawks did not have information pertaining to the arrests.
Ramdeen and Amod are due to appear again in court on October 18.