Lawyer in Court for Fraud

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK ONDANGWA-based lawyer Arunugam Thambapilai had a major reversal of roles when he appeared in the dock yesterday, this time as a fraud suspect who allegedly made fraudulent claims amounting to N$75 000 from the road accident fund. The diminutive lawyer briefly made the initial court appearance yesterday morning at the Windhoek Magistrates Court where he regained his freedom after paying bail of N$50 000. The 60-year-old suspect faces charges of allegedly defrauding the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVAF) in accident claims amounting to at least N$75 000. Based on reports from the MVA investigation the money was initially meant to be paid to a widow of three children, whose husband died in a car accident over a year ago. The Law Society of Namibia said they have requested him to compile a report on the latest development concerning the alleged fraudulent claim and they have indicated they are following the case with keen interest. After his claim the lawyer Thambapilai was arrested on Monday when he surrendered himself to the police after a warrant of arrest was issued against him. Following his arrest, he told the arresting officer he had a heart condition and was taken to a private hospital where he was put under police guard. Accompanied by his two sons and dressed in a dark grey suit and a light blue shirt, Thambapilai yesterday appeared briefly in Court C where magistrate Desmond Beukes read to him the conditions attached to the N$50 000 bail. “You must report every Monday and Friday between 07:00 and 21:00 at the Windhoek or Ondangwa Police Station,” stated magistrate Beukes. At the same time, the accused was requested to hand in his passport and travelling documents to the court. His lawyer confirmed that Thambapilai was in a position to pay the bail yesterday. He was escorted by two police officers. His next court appearance will be on May 9 next year. According to sources at the MVAF, the bona fide claimant Ndinelao Nangha lodged a claim with the MVAF in 2000 through lawyer Thambapilai for the loss of support for herself and her minor children, following the death of her husband. However, the widow died in February 2001, before her claim was finalised. The lawyer Thambapilai was reportedly informed about the claimant’s death, but he failed to inform the MVAF of her death. He instead allegedly misrepresented to the Fund that the deceased was still alive and consequently the N$75 956 was paid out. “The trail of how the money was distributed indicates an intent to defraud the Fund. The Fund thus had no option but to lay a charge of fraud…” said the MVAF chairperson in a statement on Monday this week. Investigations by the MVAF are continuing and more cases are being uncovered. The Fund has requested the public to assist with any other fraudulent cases against the MVAF by calling its Toll Free Fraud Hotline 0800 66 66 66.