/ 8 April 2008

FBI nabs Fidentia fugitive

One of the alleged masterminds in the Fidentia scandal was arrested by the FBI in the United States, the National Prosecuting Authority said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Tlali Tlali said Steven William Goodwin was arrested following a request by the Directorate of Special Operations, better known as the Scorpions.

According to the NPA, Goodwin was detained on Saturday at Los Angeles airport by US authorities and the Customs and Immigration Department.

”Their intervention followed an alert issued by Interpol that Goodwin was en route to the US and that a warrant for his arrest had been issued in South Africa in July 2007.

”Goodwin left South Africa for Australia in early February 2007, following the appointment of a curator to manage the Fidentia group of companies and before the Scorpions investigation was authorised in February 2007,” said Tlali.

Goodwin was described as the ”real founder” of Fidentia and has been named repeatedly in a draft indictment against Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown. He left South Africa just days before Brown was arrested in March last year.

The draft charge sheet says that at the time Goodwin owned and was MD of a company named Worthytrade 185. Acting as a broker, he initiated the contact that resulted in the Transport Education Training Authority (Teta) entrusting promissory notes worth R100,3-million to Maddock Incorporated in April 2003.

The NPA has 60 days within which to apply for Goodwin’s extradition and is preparing papers to launch such an application, said Tlali.

”The Scorpions are currently working with the US Department of Justice to ensure the matter is resolved speedily and successfully. Once on South African soil, Goodwin will face charges of theft, fraud and corruption running into millions,” he said.

The charge sheet says Brown acted ”in the execution of a common purpose” with Goodwin in providing a R6-million bribe to ensure that the Teta board made the investment with FAM.

Goodwin is also named repeatedly in the section of the charge sheet that deals with money laundering.

Brown will go on trial in September on fraud and theft charges. He is out on R1-million bail.

The financial director of Fidentia, Graham Maddock, was effectively jailed for seven years on 54 counts involving fraud, theft, money laundering, contraventions of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act and the reckless or fraudulent conduct of business. — Sapa