Dutton faces extradition

Mungo Soggot

A JOHANNESBURG businessman who fled from his R205-million marathon fraud trial to Australia could become the second alleged foreign exchange fraudster this month to be reeled in from exile.

Edward Dutton (38), former managing director of hardboard company Interboard, will appear in court in Sydney on November 18 to fight a South African extradition application after spending this year in jail.

His hearing will come only two weeks after a London court ordered the extradition of Oliver Hill who faces forex fraud charges worth about R100-million in South Africa. Both Hill - and Dutton, if the court rules against him - could postpone or avoid their return home by appealing to higher courts in their countries of exile.

In February 1994, in the middle of his marathon fraud trial in the Rand Supreme Court, Dutton jumped bail and fled to Australia.
Once in Sydney, Dutton changed his name to Michael Addison and, according to acquaintances, bought a house in one of the city’s swankiest suburbs.

Dutton’s exile was disturbed in November 1995 when South African officials lodged an application for his extradition. He was then arrested and twice succeeded in having his hearing postponed.

James de Villiers, prosecuting counsel in the case, , says Dutton has apparently missed the deadline given him to file a written reply to the extradition application.

Rumour has it that one of Dutton’s likely defences will be that the crimes for which he is wanted in South Africa are only connected with exchange control regulations, the breach of which is not an extraditable offence.

When Dutton fled, his trial had been running for almost two years and had cost the state R8,4-million.

It is understood officials from the South African Reserve Bank and the OSEO who are handling the case are quietly confident the Sydney Court will order his extradition. If it does, Dutton, like Hill, will have to decide whether to fight an expensive round of appeals while sitting in jail or face trial in South Africa.

De Villiers says if the South Africans succeed in bagging Dutton, the case will simply start up where it left off. However, this time the authorities will presumably be more wary of granting Dutton bail.

In the trial, which cost the state R8,4- million, the prosecution claimed Dutton used forged invoices and contracts to obtain foreign currency from several banks.

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