Gary Porritt arrives at the High Court in Johannesburg. Picture: DAYLIN PAUL/AMABHUNGANE CENTRE FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
Gary Porritt arrives at the High Court in Johannesburg. Picture: DAYLIN PAUL/AMABHUNGANE CENTRE FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

THE fraud, theft and racketeering trial of Gary Porritt and Sue Bennet entered its third day on Wednesday, with the prosecution painstakingly admitting some of the documents that will make up the many volumes to be used as evidence against the former directors of now defunct JSE-listed financial services company Tigon.

Porritt and Bennet face more than 3,000 counts of fraud, theft and racketeering. The trial, supposed to begin in 2006, only got under way in earnest this week after years of delays and intervening litigation and is expected to run for many months.

This week’s portion of the trial is focused on counts 99 to 3,067, which deal with what the state claims was a fraudulent investment scheme involving PSC Guaranteed Growth. When this company collapsed almost 3,000 investors lost more than R162m.

The indictment accuses Porritt and Bennett of drafting the company’s prospectus to "falsely and deliberately deceive investors", saying it contained a number of material misrepresentations, as did the financial statements for more than a year in 2001 and 2002. According to the prosecution, the company said it would invest in a wide array of shares but did not do so. Instead the portfolio was to consist of "only two thinly traded shares": Tigon and Shawcell Telecommunications, another company of Porritt and Bennet.

The indictment says Tigon entered into an agreement guaranteeing it would make good any shortfall on the prospectus’s investment promises but had no intention of honouring the guarantee and did not in fact do so.

The day’s proceedings, however, moved at a snail’s pace, with Johannesburg High Court Judge Brian Spilg explaining every step to Porritt and Bennet, who are legally representing themselves. The pace was also retarded to allow Porritt to take sufficient notes after he explained to the court that he was slow at writing.

Counsel for the state Etienne Coetzee SC introduced a number of documents into evidence, with witness Jack Milne, the former MD of PSC Guaranteed Growth, reading their contents into the record. The documents included correspondence between Milne and Porritt and drafts of the prospectus and guarantee agreement.

Coetzee said the state would introduce a guilty plea statement by Milne for his role in the scheme saying that, based on a plea agreement, he had received "a custodial sentence", which he had served.

The trial continues.