Bogus service provider sentenced on money laundering charges

Maria Louisa Venter pleaded guilty to all charges. Photo: Hawks

Maria Louisa Venter pleaded guilty to all charges. Photo: Hawks

Published May 2, 2024


A woman who posed as a bogus service provider to a local municipality in the Free State has been sentenced in the Welkom Commercial Crimes Court.

Maria Louisa Venter, 44, pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering.

The provincial spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (known as Hawks), Warrant Officer Fikiswa Matoti said Venter posed as a service provider to the Mantsopa Local Municipality.

“In December 2020, the budget manager at Mantsopa Local Municipality received an electronic mail from a suspect pretending to be a service provider called Project Pioneer Construction requesting an outstanding payment of R225,289.69.

“The budget manager, knowing that there was indeed an outstanding amount of money to be paid to the service provider, requested permission from the chief financial officer (CFO) to make the payment.

“Permission was granted and the money was transferred to a bank account provided by the bogus service provider,” Matoti said.

However, days later the legitimate service provider approached the municipality and requested their outstanding payment.

The budget manager sent the proof of payment to the company who realised it was not their banking details on the documentation. The company also queried the e-mail sent to the municipality by Venter.

The municipality approached the bank who confirmed the money was paid to Venter.

The matter was referred to the Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team based in Bethlehem for further investigation.

“On February 14, 2024, Venter was located and arrested in Pretoria by SAPS Detective Services based in Pretoria North and handed over to the Hawks to make her first appearance on February 16, 2024,” Matoti said.

Venter was sentenced to eight years imprisonment which is wholly suspended for five years.

[email protected]

IOL News