The two South African bankers allegedly behind a multimillion-rand Ponzi scheme that defrauded scores of pensioners and retirees across the country will spend at least five more nights in jail after their bail application was postponed on Wednesday.
THE TWO South African bankers allegedly behind a multimillion-rand Ponzi scheme that defrauded scores of pensioners and retirees across the country will spend at least five more nights in jail after their bail application was postponed on Wednesday.
Durban-based bankers Brandon Naicker, aka Muruvan Egambaram, and Abraham “Jason” Pillay appeared in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday for a bail application.
The pair, who ran the insurance brokerage firms called Infiniti and Branson Capital, respectively, were arrested for allegedly defrauding an investor of R2 million.
They are, however, under investigation for allegedly fleecing scores of investors out of more than R180 million involving approximately 160 cases.
When they arrived in the dock of the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court, senior State prosecutor Joel Kisten told the court that the charge sheet had been amended to include the two companies the pair had operated, Branson Capital and insurance brokerage firm called Infinitii.
In addition, six more charges, including theft and money laundering had been added to the charge sheet.
The defence attorney for Naicker indicated to the court that he had only received the updated charge on the morning before his client’s appearance and needed time to adequately prepare for the bail proceedings.
It also emerged in court that Pillay, who had been represented by Legal Aid, would need to prove that he qualified for the service as had not met the “means test” as he was still a director of a company. He would need to submit the bank records of the companies he was a director of to establish if he passed the means test.
Pillay told the court that he did not have the means to hire a private attorney and indicated that he was willing to represent himself at the bail hearings.
The matter was postponed until next week.
They have been remanded into custody and sent back to Westville Prison.
The alleged fraudulent operation is reportedly led by Naicker, who portrays himself as a successful “serial entrepreneur” in the financial industry on social media. Naicker, the founder of Infinitii, a financial services provider and insurance brokerage, 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.
Alongside Pillay, identified as a partner in business on LinkedIn and co-owner of Branson Capital, Naicker has been implicated in orchestrating what is suspected to be a vast Ponzi scheme. The duo’s business ventures, Infinitii and Branson Capital, presented themselves online with professional and polished websites, lending an air of legitimacy to their operations.
Authorities suspect that this scheme, primarily targeting retirees and pensioners, could amount to a staggering R180 million in fraud. Victims of this scheme include former educators, law enforcement officers, and entrepreneurs, who have lost significant portions of their retirement funds.
Investigations have revealed 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 with 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.
For instance, an investment of R900,000 with Branson Capital was purported to yield monthly returns of R27,000. However, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) has recently confirmed the initiation of a formal inquiry into the activities of both Infinitii and Branson Capital.
Responding to media enquiries, the FSCA emphasised its ongoing efforts to warn the public against engaging with unregulated or unregistered entities. Despite numerous public warnings and the prevalence of fraudulent schemes offering unrealistically high returns, many individuals continue to invest in such dubious ventures, the FSCA noted.