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Crown Converters employees plead guilty over sh1.6b theft

By Edward Anyoli

Added 16th August 2019 06:00 PM

The two employees accepted to refund the money to the company within a period of six months

Crown Converters employees plead guilty over sh1.6b theft

Alpesh Tailor (left) and Dave Kumar (centre) during a previous hearing at the Anti-Corruption Court. File Photo

The two employees accepted to refund the money to the company within a period of six months

Two former employees of Crown Converters Ltd have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the company of sh1.6b.

Dave Kumar and Alpesh Tailor on Friday through a plea bargain admitted that they conspired to steal company's money and have accepted to refund the money. Crown Converter deals in stationery and printing.

The convicts also pleaded guilty to charges of embezzlement, forgery, and uttering false documents and were subsequently convicted on their own plea of guilty.

A plea bargain is an arrangement between the prosecution and accused whereby, an accused pleads guilty to a lesser charge in exchange of a more lenient sentence or an agreement to drop charges.

Kumar and Tailor accepted to refund the money to the company within a period of six months. Kumar is to refund sh200m and Tailor will pay sh172m.

"We plead guilty to all the counts and offer to refund the stolen money that we retained during the fraud, to the complainant (Crown Converters Ltd) within a period of six months," the convicts' statement read.

The convicts voluntarily accepted before Justice Margaret Tibulya of the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo, Kampala, that they voluntarily took decisions to plead guilty.

"The court finds that the accused pleas are freely and voluntarily made with an understanding of the consequences thereof, that any allegations as indicated in the form (plea bargain form) are true," Tibulya said.

Prosecution led by Barbara Kawuma from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said between January and November 2008, Kumar and Tailor while employed by Crown Converters as accounts assistants, stole sh1.6b from the company by illegally approving and authorising cheques and withdrawals of cash for their own benefits.

The prosecution said the fraud was unearthed by one of the directors, Gopal Patel, that money meant for Crown Converters was illegally transferred from different banks in Kampala to private accounts of the convicts.

It is further said that Police inquiries revealed that a number of resolutions binding the company had been changed without the knowledge of other directors and subsequently money was stolen from the company.

Through their lawyer, Richard Rugambwa, the convicts pleaded with the court to allow them to refund sh372m to Crown Converters saying they were remorseful and have dependents.

"I concur to the plea and any related admission and join in the waiver of the accused constitutional and statutory right and I hereby stipulate that there is a factual basis for the plea," Rugambwa said.

However, former director of the company Aniket Patel, who had been jointly accused with Kumar and Tailor at the Anti-Corruption Court denied the allegations and declined to plead guilty.

Aniket is also facing a separate civil suit by the company at the Commercial Court for allegedly defrauding Crown Converters of sh10b.

He is currently on remand in Luzira Prison after the court revoked his bail on the grounds that he was a flight risk.

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