Fine suitable penalty for Fidentia's Brown: lawyer

13 May 2013 - 14:21 By Sapa
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J Arthur Brown. File photo
J Arthur Brown. File photo
Image: Gallo Images

A fine is an appropriate sentence for the fraud committed by former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

Braganza Pretorius, for Brown, said the section of law stipulating a minimum sentence of 15 years' imprisonment for fraud was not applicable.

He argued that the section applied to fraud offences involving amounts of more than R500 000 and that the State had not proved actual monetary loss.

"There was no actual prejudice proved or admitted, and the potential prejudice which Brown was convicted on cannot be measured in monetary terms," Pretorius said in his closing arguments for Brown's sentencing.

Brown, 43, was recently convicted on two counts of fraud related to his admissions about misrepresentations he made regarding investments entrusted to him.

Pretorius said a stiff fine, rather than a term of imprisonment, should apply.

"I understand that this is not a 'Mickey Mouse' charge," the lawyer said.

Should the court decide the minimum sentencing section applied, Pretorius asked that substantial and compelling circumstances be considered for a lesser sentence.

He said Brown had shown remorse by apologising to his staff, offering to help investors recover money, and taking the court into his confidence.

"He has learnt a dear lesson and will certainly be more cautious when doing business in future," he said.

"This is not a violent crime and the community does not need protection from Mr Brown... The accused should not be sacrificed on an altar of deterrence".

Pretorius said it would be a waste of Brown's intelligence and creativity to put him in jail.

The lawyer said Brown could never have foreseen that Fidentia would be put under curatorship and that it would have such "disastrous consequences".

Brown's personal circumstances were that he was a first offender, had not seen his children for five years, and had already spent 191 days in prison awaiting trial.

Pretorius said it was ironic that a large portion of this time spent in jail was on a charge which the State conceded it did not have enough evidence to secure a conviction.

The court should also keep in mind the punishment which Brown had suffered through media publicity.

"He was subjected to immense media exposure and branded as a thief who stole millions. The damage is done, and he has been ostracised as a result."

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