Fresh pressure on suspended beach boss
Suspended beach boss Fernando Cain – found guilty of fraud in an internal probe – is expected to face a fresh criminal charge after a previous one was dropped.
Cain was found guilty in an internal process by the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality last week of falsifying documents and failing to declare that his family members owned a company which he was giving business to.
Following a Weekend Post report last week, a check on a criminal investigation which was also launched in March revealed the state prosecuting authority had ordered the case closed as there was “no prospect of [a] successful prosecution”.
According to municipal documents, invoices totalling almost R200 000 linked to contracts awarded to contractors, along with quotations, were found on Cain’s computer.
The documents claim the beach manager was submitting quotations and invoices created by him from his computer and submitting them to the NMBM for the purpose of generating payments for the companies involved.
The documents go on to say that Cain failed to declare business interests in a company, Mattcole CC – listed on the municipal database as a supplier – which is owned by his son and daughter-in-law.
The initial criminal case of fraud opened against Cain had, according to police, no elements of a crime, resulting in it being closed off in April – a month after it was opened.
Charges on the docket had also been changed from fraud to the flouting of “Municipal Finance Act regulations” – both of which he was found guilty of in the internal process.
However, yesterday police stated another a case of fraud was expected to be opened by the municipality later this week after “new evidence” emerged during the internal probe.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu confirmed the case had been closed after evidence at the time did not suggest a crime had been committed.
Questioned as to why this had happened while internal documents stated a crime had been committed, Naidu said the decision on whether to proceed lay with the National Prosecuting Authority.
Naidu also said reasons for the initial fraud charge being altered to transgression of the finance act regulation was due to lack of evidence in the docket.
After queries from Weekend Post, a meeting between municipal beaches and resorts director Kithi Ngesi and police detectives was held on Thursday.
Naidu confirmed that it had been agreed that municipal investigators would consult with detectives and they were likely to open a case of fraud this week.
“New evidence has emerged during the internal probe and these are the documents the detectives are waiting for. It was decided during a consultation between police and the municipality, if such documents show a crime, another case will be opened,” she said.
Asked whether it was likely the case would be handed to the specialist Hawks commercial crime unit, Naidu confirmed they would be consulted to ascertain if the docket should be handed over to them.
Ngesi referred queries to city manager Johann Mettler, who remained tightlipped, stating: “As the process is currently still in progress, no information can be provided at this stage.”
Cain has since enlisted the help of lawyer Carolyn Ah Shene-Verdoorn, who yesterday confirmed they had submitted written representation to the hearing chairman.
Asked about taking legal action regarding the hearing, Ah Shene said they would wait for the outcome of the hearing.
“Going forward we will consider legal options.”
The internal probe by the metro’s safety and security special investigation unit was launched in December following an audit that uncovered discrepancies in the beach office.
The probe was triggered after several near drownings across the Bay during the December 2015 year-end holidays.
The internal hearing report findings state that not only was Cain guilty of a breach of internal policy, but also guilty of white-collar crime.