Wine Estate Accountant jailed to 15 years for fraud

A German baroness and her husband had high hopes when they came to South Africa to start a wine farm 14 years ago.
Little did they know that they would be duped by a crafty chartered accountant who managed to siphon millions from under their noses.

Baroness Ingrid von Essen, one of the directors of Capaia Wines, along with her husband Baron Alexander, suspected that Francois Austin, the company’s general manager, had been up to no good.

She launched a full-scale audit of her company. It found that Austin, a divorcé from Brackenfell in Cape Town, had misappropriated close to R17-million of their money.

Yesterday, after entering into a plea and sentence agreement with the state, the burly and calm- looking Austin pleaded guilty to 132 counts of fraud in the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court.

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