Mahatma Gandhi’s great-granddaughter Ashish Lata Ramgobin, 56, has been held guilty by a court in Durban in a fraud and forgery case, and sentenced to seven years in prison. The Durban Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Monday also refused her leave to appeal against both the conviction and the sentence.
She has been held guilty of defrauding businessman SR Maharaj after he advanced Rs 3.33 crore (R6.2 million) to her for allegedly clearing import and customs duties for a non-existent consignment from India. He was promised a share in profits. Mahatma Gandhi
When the trial against Lata Ramgobin began in 2015, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had said that she allegedly gave fake invoices and documents to persuade potential investors that three containers of linen were being shipped in from India. During the trial, she was released on bail of 50,000 rands, approximately Rs 2.68 lakh.
During the hearing, it was argued that Lata Ramgobin had met Maharaj in August 2015. The New Africa Alliance Footwear Distributors, in which Maharaj is a director, imports, manufactures and sells clothing, linen and footwear. Maharaj’s company also gives funds to other companies on a profit-share basis.
Lata Ramgobin told Maharaj that she had imported three containers of linen for the South African Hospital Group NetCare. She said she was experiencing financial difficulties to pay for import costs and customs and she needed the money to clear the goods at the harbour, the prosecuting agency said.
She told Maharaj that she needed R6.2 million. To convince him, she showed him what she claimed was a signed purchase order for the goods. Later that month, she sent him what seemed to be a NetCare invoice and delivery note as proof that the goods were delivered and payment was imminent.
Lata Ramgobin further sent Maharaj a confirmation from NetCare’s bank account that payment had been made. Keeping in mind Ramgobin’s family credentials and NetCare documents, Maharaj had entered into a written agreement with her for the loan.
However, after Maharaj came to know that the documents were fake and NetCare had no arrangements with Lata Ramgobin, the businessman filed criminal charges against the woman.
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