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Machanik admits guilt, regrets actions

Former estate agent Wendy Machanik deeply regrets the actions that led to her conviction on 90 counts of theft, she wrote in a newspaper opinion piece on Sunday.

"I'd like to hereby state clearly and unambiguously that, yes, I am guilty of unlawfully accessing my company's trust fund to the value of R17 million, but not in the manner or for the reasons portrayed," Machanik wrote in the Sunday Times.

Machanik was fined R1.5 million by the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court last month under a plea agreement in terms of which she admitting to 90 counts of theft totalling R27m, and two of failing to keep proper records of her company's trust fund. She wrote yesterday that her business, Wendy Machanik Properties, was hit by the economic downturn in 2007 and that she borrowed from the trust in an attempt to save her employees' jobs.

"Looking back now, I know what I should have done. I should have allowed the company to fold, declared bankruptcy and walked away...

"But I felt it was my responsibility to my employees and their families..."

Machanik said she paid back the money, but was later contacted by people who wanted to extort money from her in exchange for their silence.

She was now virtually penniless and was about to start a sentence of long-term house arrest.
The court fined Machanik R1 000 (or a year's imprisonment), suspended for three years, for failing to keep and audit accounting records.

She was also sentenced to three years' correctional supervision and fined R1.5m.

(The Mercury)


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