Goldberg trial saga draws to a close

26 February 2011 – Charin de Beer, the prosecutor who famously took on Jacob Zuma in his rape trial, will soon face a private prosecution for allegedly telling lies in an affidavit – known as statutory perjury. Jeremy Gordin writes for The Saturday Star. 

And Investec, “the specialist banking and asset group”, listed on the London Stock Exchange as well as the JSE, has also not emerged smelling of roses from the still-unfinished three-year legal saga of the state versus Lawrence Goldberg.

Legal representatives for Goldberg, 48, whose trial for fraud is set down for final argument on Monday in the Wynberg magistrates’ court, will bring the prosecution against De Beer once the trial is over.

The volumes of court papers reveal allegations of perjury by De Beer, the former Gauteng director of public prosecutions who last year retired from the NPA. De Beer was unavailable for comment.

Investec also stands accused of alleged illegal and questionable activities in terms of what was done on its behalf by Specialised Services Group (SSG), a private investigation company and Associated Intelligence Networks (AIN). Warren Goldblatt is listed as chief operating officer of SSG and AIN.

Goldberg is missing half his teeth from an attack and has rectal injuries from an attempted rape with a broom stick, both as a result of spending three years as an awaiting-trial-prisoner at Johannesburg prison’s Medium A (“Sun City”).

His situation came to public attention after his mother Marian Goldberg, who lives in the US, wrote to the Saturday Star on 12 February that: “My son was arrested and charged with fraud in April [sic] 2008. It is now two months short of three years. His case has been postponed more times than I can count … What kind of prison system affords more rights to convicted prisoners than it does to those who are innocent until proven guilty?”

On Wednesday regional magistrate Renier Boshoff closed the state’s case against Goldberg after the state conceded that after 34 months it had been unable to organise bringing witnesses from the UK to testify against Goldberg.

Monday has now been set down for closing argument in the strange and complex trial that this week was characterised by shouting matches between the short-fused Boshoff, pro bono defence advocate Craig Snoyman (referred to by the magistrate and on the record as “Mr Sneeuman”), and prosecutor Adele Barnard.

Goldberg’s wife, Margarita Reed, who has been held without bail for three years in the Johannesburg women’s prison, and Goldberg were charged in March 2008, mainly with fraud.

The main charge against them is that Goldberg allegedly made “misrepresentations” to Investec about his assets, resulting in Investec granting him a credit card facility of R1-million and home loan of about R4-million.

After the facilities had been granted, Investec learnt that a warrant had been issued against Goldberg in the UK for alleged tax fraud. Investec claimed that Goldberg’s dealings with it had therefore been based on fraudulent documents and ill-gotten gains.

Among the volumes of court documents are the following:

* De Beer, then Gauteng DPP, signed an affidavit testifying that the state had paid for the transport and accommodation of a witness from England, Robert Spaul.

An internal department of justice memo dated 23 November 2009 – attached to the state’s own affidavit! – stated that the flight was paid for by SSG Forensic Consultants, retained by Investec, and that Spaul’s Sandton hotel bill had been paid by Investec. A hotel invoice shows clearly that Investec paid Spaul’s account.

Goldberg laid a charge of perjury and statutory perjury against De Beer but on 2 November 2010, XJ Khanyile, acting director of public prosecutions at the South Gauteng high court, declined to prosecute De Beer – no reasons given. Goldberg will institute a private prosecution.

Stephen Koseff, Investec CEO, said he had heard about the hotel bill but not about the air tickets.

“The state apparently didn’t have sufficient money for Spaul and we couldn’t leave him sitting there with an unpaid hotel bill,” he said.

Koseff denied any wrongdoing on the part of his bank. “We don’t like people who steal our money and mislead us. We have to hand such matters over to the police. I don’t think we did anything wrong – if the prosecution has the man hanging around for three years, that’s not our fault.”

Read the full story here.

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

2 Responses to Goldberg trial saga draws to a close

  1. chad thomas says:

    Investec and SSG (previously known as AIN) have long been accused of violating human rights and transgressing the boundaries of the law. A case against both is currently being investigated by the HRC and there is talk about an official Judicial Board of Enquiry being set up to investigate numerous complaints against both.

    Ex employees of both have come forward and made affidavits how Investec and SSG / AIN illegally tapped staff and clients phones. Whisteblowers have come forward with names of policemen on their pay roll.

    Nick Frangos was a victim of their illegal activities. Other alleged victims include the likes of Stuart Chait, Justin Lewis to name a few.

    When will they be brought to book?

  2. I really loved your blog post.Really getting excited about read more. Excellent.

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