Port Elizabeth – A former general manager of an auctioneering company that operates nationwide pleaded guilty in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday to 13 counts of fraud involving just over one million rand.
Fifty-one-year old Vincent Moss spent 15 years of his life at a Port Elizabeth branch of Aucor, a company in the business of selling, auctioning, valuation and storage of property on behalf of private and corporate clients.
Moss was responsible for running day to day operations, liaising with clients, procuring assets for auctions as well as auctioning off property for clients. During 2014 and 2016, several clients entrusted Moss with property to sell off or store, however Moss sold the properties for his own account and the cash of the sale was deposited into his bank account or a bank account belonging to his son, also called Vincent.
During court proceedings on Tuesday, defence attorney Alwyn Griebenow read out his client’s guilty plea. Moss claimed that he was caught between “two fires” as he was using the money to pay for his son’s university tuition.
He said that the cash he stole from clients also fed his wife’s gambling addiction.
Moss claimed that his wife, who has been diagnosed as bipolar, had found out that he had been stealing from clients and threatened to call him out on the crime.
“She waited for the money to be deposited into the bank account and would go to The Boardwalk to gamble,” the plea read.
It also emerged that in 1982 he was found guilty of six counts of theft. At the time he was given five “hidings” as punishment in addition to a suspended jail sentence.
Griebenow said that his client was in a position to pay back the money by means of his Sanlam pension and provident funds and while there was no other suitable sentence other than direct imprisonment, he asked the court to be lenient when passing down sentence.
However, State Advocate Lise Keech argued that it was a large amount of cash and the case was serious in nature involving one of the biggest auction houses in the country.
Keech asked for the minimum sentence of 15 years direct imprisonment to be imposed.
“He is the master of his own fortune, the defence is saying that the accused will pay back the money, but it does not work that way, it is not an excuse to steal,” said Keech.
She said that even if Moss attempted to pay back the money it would not cover the actual loss involving over one million rand.
Magistrate Lionel Lindoor postponed the matter until January 26 for sentencing.