Former officials ‘did not pocket money for own benefit’
Two men convicted of defrauding the Bethelsdorp Development Trust (BDT) of about R8-million nearly a decade ago, were each sentenced to a hefty fine of a quarter of a million rand or a suspended sentence in a Port Elizabeth court yesterday.
The Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court sentenced friends Robert Gallagher and Ronald Niegaardt, both in their 40s, to a fine of R250 000 or five years’ imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years, after magistrate Louis Claassen found that they had not benefited personally from the misappropriated money.
State advocate Tjaart van Zyl managed to prove this week that the two accused had misappropriated the cash, meant to uplift and develop Nelson Mandela Bay’s impoverished northern areas.
Both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The money had been paid to Gallagher and Niegaardt – trustees of the BDT – by the Northern Areas Trust (NAT) between August 2007 and March 2008.
The BDT was established by Gallagher and Niegaardt, along with four other local businessmen, in November 2004, to promote sustainable development in the northern areas.
The NAT was established in November 2005 by professors Ihron Rensburg and Derrick Swartz (of NMMU), businessman Donovan Nadison, and ex-mayor Danny Jordaan, to oversee the BDT expenditure.
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