N$300,000 fraud suspect to get new lawyer

The man accused of defrauding a local bank of more than N$300,000 by presenting counterfeit travellers cheques on multiple occasions is due to get a new legal representative, following the failure of his state-appointed lawyer to show up at court.

Abraham Brown, 33, is charged with fraud and an alternative charge of theft in connection with counterfeit travellers cheques.

It is alleged that on June 16 in 2008 at or near Windhoek, the accused unlawfully and falsely with intent to defraud, gave out and pretended to a local commercial bank (Nedbank) by depositing counterfeit travellers cheques in euro and pound denominations with a total value of N$338,932.50.

Appearing in court on bail, Brown informed the court that after being in touch with the directorate of legal aid he was advised to apply for another legal representative.

Brown added that he needed two weeks to sort out the issue so that the trial can continue.

According to the teller who assisted Brown at the said bank on the date in question, Brown presented him with two cheques, one for 10,000 euros (N$155,402.79) and one for 15,000 pounds (N$255,206.47). They allegedly phoned American Express for approval on the serial numbers of the cheques.

The two cheques were cleared upon inspection at the bank and money was deposited into the account of the accused. Together with the cheques Brown allegedly presented a registration and sales agreement of a Land Cruiser and the identity document of the said buyer.

With the first cheques cleared Brown went back to the same bank with more travellers cheques worth 49,000 pounds (N$833,674.48) hoping that they would be exchanged into local currencies again, but this time around the teller at the back noticed that something was amiss with the cheques and then notified their forensic investigation team.

Anti-laundering control officer at the bank Willem Visagie Brink explained that they found that the security features on the cheques presented by Brown at the bank were not visible at all.

There was no watermark. Furthermore, there is no identification strip visible on the cheque, testified Brink. The printing quality was bad, the holograms as well were not accurate, according to Brink.

After money was deposited into Brown's account he made a withdrawal of N$31,000 followed by another withdrawal of N$280,000, leaving only a total of N$3,600 in his bank account.

Upon his arrest he was found in possession of N$12,000, which was confiscated by the bank in an effort to recoup the money it had lost in the process. Brown pleaded not guilty � at the beginning of his trial earlier this year � to both charges, stating that he had no idea that the cheques were counterfeits when he got them from the buyer of his vehicles.

According to the investigator, upon inquiry, Brown informed them he was a freelance vehicle dealer and he got the cheques from a customer who wanted to buy specific vehicles from him.

However, the said client of the accused has denied that he ever entered into a sales agreement with the accused or bought any vehicles from him.

Brown is expected to return to court on September 15 for continuation of his trial.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia