Absa Fraud Accused Couple Splurged R290k on Louis Vuitton, Gucci: 'Let Them Be'

Absa Fraud Accused Couple Splurged R290k on Louis Vuitton, Gucci: 'Let Them Be'

  • The fraud accused specialist engineer at Absa and his wife appeared in the commercial crime court for their bail application
  • Xolela Masebeni and Athembile Mpani allegedly defrauded the banking giant of more than R100 million over four months last year
  • The pair allegedly spent more than R290 000 on a clothing shopping spree at Gucci and Louis Vuitton stores in Sandton City
  • South Africans have taken to social media to react to the latest developments around the case, with many critical of the bank

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JOHANNESBURG - The Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Johannesburg on Monday heard that the couple at the heart of the R103 million Absa fraud case spent R292 000 in one day at two luxury clothing stores in Sandton.

The husband and wife duo faces two charges of theft, contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and fraud. At their formal bail application, the court heard that Xolela Masebeni fraudulently transferred more than R100 million into several bank accounts over four months in 2021.

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Xolela Masebeni, Athembile Mpani, Fraud, Queenstown, Specialist engineer, Absa, Bank, Johannesburg, Commercial crime court, Bail application, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Sandton City
Absa's specialist engineer appeared in court for his bail application on Monday. Image: Waldo Swiegers/ Bloomberg
Source: Getty Images

The case came into the spotlight after a complaint that the funds were taken from an account that Absa's forensic division could not locate an instruction for a debit to be executed on.

According to the investigating officer in the case, Captain Oscar Mopeli, Masebeni, a specialist engineer at Absa, and his wife Athembile Mpani were allocated amounts of R9.5 million and R17 million, respectively. The rest of the money was distributed between four other accounts.

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Big money spenders

It's understood about R15 million was transferred into an unspecified individual's bank account, with R59 million deposited into said individual's business account.

TimesLIVE reported that the funds in Masebeni's account were used for cash withdrawals, with that deposited into Mpani's bank account reserved for point-of-sale (POS) purchases.

Using the latter's account, the couple spent R160 000 at a Louis Vuitton shop before making their way into a Gucci store to spend a further R132 000. The luxury retail store transactions were carried out at Sandton City on the same day.

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Investigations are ongoing

Mopeli told the court that investigations are yet to reveal the four other mysterious bank accounts and to whom they belong. He added that Absa managed to freeze about 33 per cent of the amount that was defrauded.

"We have not yet unmasked the identities of the holders of the other bank accounts. On the day the accused [Masebeni] was arrested, the Absa laptop he handed over had already been wiped clean. However, R34 million has been frozen, with R68 million still missing," Mopeli said.

Presiding officer Magistrate Phillip Venter postponed the formal bail application to Wednesday. The state is opposing bail for the two suspects.

Meanwhile, News24 reported that Masebeni, who was arrested in Queenstown last week, is not the first to defraud the banking giant of millions. Instead, he joins several former employees caught for the same offence in recent years, although he appears to have been the most brazen to date.

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Netizens offer their take

On social media, locals expressed varying views, with some blasting the bank for being "poorly run." Briefly News takes a deep dive into the comments to bring readers the loudest comments.

@Steve Marr wrote:

"Very poorly run bank if it happened over 4 months, and for that amount of money, but an overdrawn account of R50 of a customer is detected immediately!"

@Khethukuthula Malandela Dlamini said:

"Is just R103 million, ABSA is not even shaken the market still intact so is more like nothing they stole. Where are the Steinhoff criminals."

@Siaruli Rofhiwa Erick added:

"I was gonna go for a massive business without my partner involved, putting other cash offshore. By now I was gonna be ready to enter payback the money deal and later be free again."

Nomvula Mokonyane fingered in R2.7m PPE corruption

Elsewhere, Briefly News previously reported that the personal protective equipment (PPE) corruption report commissioned and compiled by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) revealed that former cabinet minister Nomvula Mokonyane was involved in Covid-19 tender corruption to the tune of R2.7 million.

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The report, made public by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday last week, showed that Mokonyane paid about R1.6 million from her personal account to Tuwo Rhodesia, a company owned by her daughter Katleho Mokonyane and Bonelwa Mgudlwa.

The company was contracted to supply 200 000 units of soap to the Gauteng Health Department (DoH) before purchasing the product from Continental Cash and Carry (CCNC), a wholesaler in Crown Mines, Johannesburg, at a price of just over R1.5 million in April 2020.

Source: Briefly News

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