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NPA order freezing R100m in bank accounts linked to diamond dealer Louis Liebenberg overturned

Pretoria - A preservation order obtained by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) last year – in which R100 million in bank accounts linked to diamond dealer Louis Liebenberg was frozen following allegations of money laundering and running a Ponzi scheme – has been overturned by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

A file picture of uncut diamonds. Picture: Reuters

Judge SN Mokose found that the State had to present facts to the court following its allegations that Louis Liebenberg traded illegally in uncut diamonds.

The judge also said that Liebenberg, his company Tariomix and his business partner Magdalena (Ronelle) Kleynhans should be offered the opportunity to place their versions before court.

The NPA obtained the preservation order in March last year in chambers before a judge, without Liebenberg being notified of the application.

Neither he nor Kleynhans thus had the opportunity to place their versions before the judge.

The order was granted in terms of Section 39 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Liebenberg did not dispute that the NPA was entitled to freeze a person’s assets if reasonable grounds existed to believe that the proceeds may result from unlawful activities.

However, he contested the manner in which the State went about obtaining the order and the facts it had placed before the court.

Liebenberg has been in the spotlight regarding his diamond activities as well as for the fact that he had earlier gifted two Nguni cattle to former president (Jacob) Zuma, at his residence in Nkandla.

The NPA, when it approached a judge in chambers last year to obtain the preservation order, claimed that it was necessary as the Financial Intelligence Centre told two banks to place holds on Liebenberg and his company’s bank accounts.

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