More than a decade after their arrest, the Krion Ponzi scheme fraudsters who left thousands of investors in financial ruin will finally start serving their jail terms after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed their appeal.
Krion’s master brain, Marietjie Prinsloo, her former husband Herbert, her daughter Maria and son-in-law Gerrit Lemstra, her son Willem Pelser and niece Izabel Engelbrecht were in June 2010 sentenced in the High Court in Pretoria to between 25 and five years imprisonment on over 200 000 charges ranging from racketeering to fraud.
They were released on bail pending their appeal against their convictions and sentences.
The SCA upheld their appeal on some of their convictions, but confirmed their sentences.
READ MORE > Liquidator explains Krion ‘mess’
Prinsloo and her family conducted a fraudulent investment scheme, with its origins in the Vaal Triangle, between 1998 and 2002.
Over R1,5 billion was invested by about 14 000 investors in the scheme and scores of investors lost all their money and were left destitute when it collapsed.
Some R908 million could never be recovered and the costs of recovering the rest was so high that investors only received a fraction of the money they originally invested, while 25 of them were totally ruined and now have to rely on the generosity of others to make ends meet.
Three Appeal Court Judges said the sentences should serve as a deterrent to those who might consider launching similar illegal multiplication schemes.
“The common theme of these Ponzi schemes is that the hard-earned financial means of others, often the elderly and financially naive members of society, are invested in the scheme on the strength of outrageous returns offered which cannot be sustained due to the lack of viable economic enterprise underpinning the scheme,” they said.
The Judges described Prinsloo’s approach in keeping her scheme alive despite directives to close it down as “cynical” and said it was clear that she had no remorse or sympathy for the plight of the investors.
They said the damage caused by her conduct both financially and emotionally could not be over-emphasised and Prinsloo’s effective sentence of 25 years imprisonment was, despite her age, (she’s now in her 60’s) not unreasonable.