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Fraudster Hildegard Steenkamp pleads guilty to stealing an epic R500mln+ from employer

woman pleads guilty to stealing over hundreds of millions from her employer, Medtronic.

Hildegard Steenkamp, an accountant pleads guilty to stealing hundreds of millions from her employer Medtronic.

Hildegard Steenkamp entered a guilty plea to 336 charges in connection with the theft of R537 million from her employer Medtronic (Pty) Ltd over a period of more than 13 years.

In the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court that is currently sitting in Palm Ridge, the former accountant from Boksburg entered a guilty plea.

“Steenkamp founded a number of companies in an effort to rationalize the lavish lifestyle she led.

According to the publication, ” Hildegard Steenkamp’s husband and son were also accused at first, but the charges against them were eventually dropped because there was not enough evidence against them.”

The proceedings regarding the sentencing of the case will now take place on August 14 and 16. The year 2017 saw her getting arrested.

Steenkamp was arrested back in 2017

According to the Boksburg Advertiser, Hawks Commercial Crime Unit caught a 43-year-old woman named Hildegard Steenkamp on Wednesday, December 13 in 2017.

The spokesperson for the Hawks, Ndivhuwo Mulamu, then disclosed to the publication that she worked as an accountant for the multinational medical equipment supplier Medtronic, whose headquarters are located in Midrand.

Her arrest came after a three-month investigation into allegations that she duplicated payments by depositing funds directly into the bank account of her late husband.

“The Hawks descended on the suspect’s house with search-and-seizure warrants and attached the woman’s 11 luxury vehicles, motorcycles, and seven immovable properties with their furniture, appliances, and jewellery.” said Mulamu in a statement. The value of these items is in the millions of rand.

Hildegard Steenkamp pleads guilty to stealing over R500Mln from her employer

Steenkamp was allowed to post bail in the amount of R250,000 as long as she did not mess with state witnesses, gave her passport and identity papers to the investigating officer, did not leave town without telling the officer, went to the Boksburg Police Station three times a week (on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), and did not move out of her home without telling the officer. All of these things are now true.

Was she funding a gambling habit?

Possibly so, because on October 26, 2014, Steenkamp was pictured at Emperors Palace Casino with a winner’s circle card, which entitled her to a two-year-long 25% share of the horse if it does well on the race tracks. In the picture, Hildegard Antoinette Steenkamp was standing alongside Peermont Tables Executive, Marc Carlton-Smith and Palace of Dreams promotion girls.

READ MORE: Alleged R18m fraudster arrested in Durban

How was she caught?

It was also said that after the woman left the company, the new accountant found problems, and that information was given to the Hawks about three months ago.

Steenkamp is not the first Medtronic employee to get caught stealing

In 2018, a former employee of Medtronic named Derrick Kane pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets and confidential information from the company. Kane was accused of stealing millions of dollars worth of trade secrets related to the company’s neuromodulation technology, which is used to treat chronic pain and other neurological disorders.

medtronic logo

According to court documents, Kane downloaded and transferred confidential information to his personal computer before leaving Medtronic to join a competitor. He was caught after an investigation by the FBI and Medtronic, which revealed that Kane had taken trade secrets and other proprietary information without authorization.

Kane was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release. In addition, he was ordered to pay over $4.4 million in restitution to Medtronic.

Medtronic has stated that it takes the protection of its intellectual property very seriously and works diligently to safeguard its trade secrets and confidential information. The company has implemented numerous measures to prevent theft and unauthorized disclosure of its proprietary information, including monitoring employee access to sensitive data and requiring employees to sign non-disclosure agreements.

But the question still remains though, how did a criminal like Steenkamp manage to get away with stealing hundreds of millions for a period of 13 years, right under the nose of Medtronic, other accountants, and its auditors?

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