Friday, 30 October 2015

Gerrit (Bez) Bezuidenhout

PRETORIA – Six people linked to an illegal gold trading syndicate who allegedly defrauded the SA Revenue Service (SARS) of nearly half a billion rand will appear in the Boksburg District Court on Friday.

Former police officer Gerrit (Bez) Bezuidenhout, his brother Etienne, his sister in-law, Susan Bezuidenhout, along with three others face charges of racketeering, money laundering, fraud and other serious tax offences.

Members of the police’s specialised investigative unit, the Hawks, arrested the six in May and July this year.

“The syndicate in question is alleged to have fabricated over 16 000 fraudulent invoices (worth about R437 million) to reflect purchases of second-hand gold jewellery,” SARS said in a statement.

“These fictitious purchases were used in claiming a fraudulent 14 percent notional VAT [value added tax] input over the period of 2010 to 2012, as well as understating their sales during the same period.”


Johannesburg - The alleged kingpin of a R400-million illegal gold mining syndicate lives in suburban Kempton Park and is a “gun-toting” former policeman who apparently has a penchant for smuggling diamonds.

But Gerrit Pieter Bezuidenhout, 43, will have to spend another weekend in jail as the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court postponed his bail hearing on Friday.

Bongani Majola, for the State, told the court that Bezuidenhout had benefited “tremendously” through the illicit gold trade in Gauteng.

The syndicate he led, according to the State, had created more than 16 000 fraudulent invoices to reflect purchases of second-hand gold jewellery. These “fictitious” purchases were used to claim VAT between 2009 and 2012.

Majola read out an affidavit from an investigating officer who said she had obtained bank records allegedly showing how Bezuidenhout’s companies did not conduct business, but repeatedly claimed VAT returns as dealers in second-hand goods.

“The investigation established that these individuals did not supply any goods,” said Majola.

“Invoice submitted (to Sars, for about R437 million) didn’t meet requirements.”

Bezuidenhout owns several companies, including Nyaleti Jewellers, Richbar Metals and River Queen Trading 483, all close corporations.

He was nabbed last week – with co-accused Susanna Eksteen and Aletta Maria Galloway – in a joint investigation by Sars and the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation, or Hawks.

Eksteen and Galloway have been granted bail.

During his arrest, Bezuidenhout was found with precious metals and an unlicensed firearm.

The court heard how Bezuidenhout was arrested on diamond smuggling allegations in Tanzania in 2001.

Bezuidenhout applied for bail, but the State opposed his application, arguing the charges he faced were serious and that he could possibly skip the country to evade trial.

He had previously fled to Lusaka, Zambia, the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court was told.

Majola said the State also opposed bail on the grounds that Bezuidenhout could attempt to influence or conceal evidence and intimidate witnesses.

He said evidence would indicate that Bezuidenhout was likely to evade the trial. He had been arrested in Tanzania on gold smuggling charges in 2001 and had fled to Lusaka.

Bezuidenhout had previously intimidated workers and witnesses that were known to him, he said.

But Bezuidenhout, through his attorney, denied all charges against him and said the allegations were “contradictory”.

He said in an affidavit that his continued incarceration was affecting his businesses and could result in job losses for his employees.

“I have no desire to interfere with any witness in the matter. I am not on bail or parole,” he said. “There are no charges pending against me. I deny I was arrested in Tanzania but I did visit the country.”

Bezuidenhout said he had “never been charged nor convicted” in any of the crimes alleged by the State.

He accused the State of generalising in its submission to the court and failing to produce evidence to back up the allegations made against him.

Magistrate Emmanuel Magapa postponed the bail hearing to Monday.

Bezuidenhout and his co-accused face racketeering, money laundering, theft and contravention of Precious Metals Act charges.

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