Fraudulent employee and intermediary fined
Senior investigator, Johan Nel provides an update on a case
previously reported on in Integrity where fraud took place within
the Santam value chain.
If you've been swindled by a rogue insurance intermediary and
you get caught up in a blame game between the intermediary and his
or her employer, don't be fobbed off. They could both be held
liable for your losses.
The Ombud for Financial Services Providers recently ordered a
brokerage and its employee to repay a client who was defrauded of
money collected by the intermediary, under the pretense that it was
for policies with short- term' insurer Santam.
In this case, Mathys Johannes Marais, trading as Protea
Makelaars, and his former staff member, Suzette Brickhill, have
been ordered to pay R36 500 to David le Roux of Tzaneen,
During her investigation, Noluntu Bam, the Ombud for Financial
Services Providers, discovered that Santam had carried out its own
investigation into Marais and Brickhill. The insurer found that
neither Marais nor Brickhill had a mandate to collect premiums on
of Santam and that Brickhill had allegedly made use of
fabricated tax invoices and policy schedules to deceive clients
into thinking they were insured.
Santam opened a fraud case against Brickhill and reported the
matter to the Registrar of Short-term Insurance. Consequently, the
Registrar entered into a settlement agreement with Marais, whereby
he paid an administrative penalty of R150 000 for various
contraventions of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services
Bam said that in response to the complaint to her office,
Brickhill failed to address any of the allegations made against her
and evaded all questions relating to fraud and theft. Instead, she
accused Marais of not complying with the FAIS Act and accused Le
Roux of instituting false insurance claims.
In his response to the complaint, Marais said that before he
employed Brickhill in May 2008, she had eight years' experience
working as a intermediary at a well-known bank. He asserted that he
provided Brickhill with in- service training, audited her files and
met with her every six to eight weeks.
He said that according to Santam's forensic investigation,
Brickhill started committing fraud in January 2010. She would
recruit new clients and then persuade them to pay annual premiums
on their policies.
She gave clients false invoices on Protea Makelaars letterheads
using Santam's VAT number and her own banking details. The clients
paid the premiums into her personal account without their
After Brickhill's dishonesty was uncovered, Marais dismissed
He said he should not be liable for Le Roux's loss because
Protea never intended to deceive clients and did not benefit from
But in her determination, the Ombud found that Marais had failed
to discharge his obligations to properly supervise Brickhill or to
take reasonable steps to ensure that she complied with the FAIS
code of conduct.
"Unleashing the untrained, unsupervised and unregistered
Brickhill on the public, Marais left her to her own devices. He did
not even bother to register her with the Registrar," Bam
Based on their "flagrant disregard of the law", Bam's order was
against both Brickhill and Marais.