Bangladesh nationals arrested for R11m drop-safe fraud

Two Bangladesh nationals appeared in court in connection with an R11-million drop-safe fraud. The pair were each granted bail of R20,000.

Their arrests  bring to five the number of people who have been arrested for the alleged crime.

The Bangladeshi duo of Ripon Younus, 33, and Ashraf Gulammahad Patel, 34, made a brief appearance at the Kimberley Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Thursday. 

They were arrested on Wednesday by the Hawks on allegations of money laundering, according to Northern Cape Hawks spokesperson Col Tebogo Thebe.

Thebe said it is alleged that between March 1 and March 3 2023, the two accused  tampered with a drop-safe used at their shop.

The arrests of Younus and Patel are the latest on the matter. Their three countrymen – Aminul Islam, 39, Ullah Foji, 36, and Akter Atika, 23 – were nabbed at Kimberley airport in March. They were about to board a flight to Johannesburg with their next and final destinations being Dubai and Dhaka as per their airline tickets. They were denied bail.

How alleged crime was committed

“They allegedly dropped an amount of R560,000 repeatedly, thereby making their drop-safe app account linked to the safe to be credited with approximately R11-million.  The R11-million was immediately transferred to different bank accounts locally and offshore. 

“Both accused persons joined their counterparts who were arrested on March 3 on the same charges. An additional suspect is expected to be arrested in due course” said Thebe.

Thebe said the Kimberley Specialised Commercial Crime Court granted Younus and Patel bail and postponed the case to February 1 2024 for all five accused to appear together.

Thebe said the provincial head of the Hawks in the Northern Cape, Maj-Gen Steven Mabuela, congratulated the team for their persistence investigating this matter. 

It is still to be determined as the investigations continue whether the five are in the country legally.  

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