A German national accused of killing Jeffreys Bay businessman Claus Schroeder in 2009, told the Port Elizabeth High Court today, that he made money through Titan, known as a pyramid style selling scheme.
Making his debut in what has been a prolonged murder trial, Jen Leunberg testified that he recruited mostly foreign members to the scheme.
He said that he used the money to make renovations on a three-storey house in Rustenburg in Germany. The house, which was registered in his mother’s name, had a bathroom and kitchen on each floor.
Leunberg said that one shower unit with a sauna costed him approximately over 2 000 Euros.
According to European media reports, the selling scheme, which involved no product, was ruled illegal by the Court of Appeal in Europe in 1996. According to a report by The Independent, the court described the scheme as “pernicious” and “evil”, whereas considerable sums could be generated as the membership grew, but with “only a chance” of this, the scheme was essentially a lottery.
According to the State, Leunberg portrayed himself as a wealthy man but was in actual fact “a man of straw” before coming to South Africa.
The State earlier revealed that Leunberg had written a letter to a German bank stating his intention to apply for insolvency as he was unable to meet his payment obligations with creditors.
Leunberg, 36 and his common-law wife Kristina Adler, 38, have been charged with two counts of fraud and the murder of Schroeder.
It is alleged that Schroeder was murdered by Leunberg after the sale of Schroeder’s Thornhill farm to the pair went sour.
The pair allegedly presented documents from a German bank showing that Adler had the finances to purchase Schroeder’s farm so they could start a business in South Africa. When Schroeder realised the pair was scamming him, he was allegedly lured to a kloof near the Owvanuk farm in the Hankey area and murdered.
Schroeder disappeared on August 14, 2009, and his body has never been found.
When Adler testified she said that Leunberg wanted to buy property in South Africa to the value of R62 million, and she believed him.
According to Adler, Leunberg had 14 flashy cars which she sometimes drove but she was unaware that he did not own any fixed property in Germany.
She disputed that the vehicles were rentals and said she believed that he was a rich businessman, who bought her gifts and would take care of everything financially.
She portrayed herself as being blissfully unaware when the State put it to her that Leunberg was penniless.
State Advocate Marius Stander detailed a history of Leunberg’s employment earnings in Germany between 2006 and 2008 – highlighting measly amounts, with him receiving a parental allowance at one stage and also drawing unemployment benefits.
“Multi-millionaires don’t draw unemployment. I don’t know but if you have 5. 5 million Euros (R64 million) it’s a mockery to draw unemployment,” said Stander.
According to Stander, Leunberg was a salary worker and before coming to South Africa he had sponged off his mother. Stander said that Leunberg had nothing and came to South Africa to keep his family alive.
The trial continues.
– African News Agency (ANA)