WINDHOEK – The corruption trial of businessman Antoine ‘Tony’ Mbok, 38, and his co-accused Daniel David Nghiwilepo, 40, finally got off the ground yesterday.
Both the accused pleaded not guilty to 10 charges of corruption and money laundering, in the Windhoek High Court before Judge Nate Ndauendapo.
Mbok, his corporation MFinance and his co-accused Nghiwilepo, face charges of fraud involving N$3.9 million.
MFinance is a duly registered Namibian company with Mbok as its sole director.
Mbok is the first and second accused in his capacity as the director of MFinance and Nghiwilepo the third accused.
A summary of substantial facts contained in the charge sheet have it that the two men in cahoots with a registry clerk at the Ministry of Finance, 39-year-old Veronika Kituna Thomas, defrauded several Namibian businesses and government agencies of up to N$3.9 million in valued-added tax (VAT) and returns for import VAT.
Thomas already pleaded guilty to five counts of corruptly using her office at the Ministry of Finance and her position for self-gratification at the start of the trial before High Court Judge Alfred Siboleka on February 10, 2012 and was sentenced to an effective eight years imprisonment.
After Thomas’ guilty plea her trial was separated from that of Mbok, his company MFinance and Nghiwilepo.
The State alleges that between January 25, 2010 and February 18, 2010, five cheques destined for the account of the Ministry of Finance were intercepted and deposited into the company’s account.
The affected companies and entities in the alleged fraud are GS Fainsinger and Associates in the amount of N$121 212.42 for VAT; the Ministry of Health and Social Services/Global Fund in the amount of N$228 494.61 for employees tax; another cheque for employees tax for the amount of N$62 905.13 allegedly made it into the coffers of MFinance, this time from Edu-Loan (now Letshego Financial Services Namibia) instead of the Ministry of Finance; while Kalahari Sands Hotel and Casino was allegedly the fourth victim when a cheque for the amount of N$202 530.08 for employees tax was paid into the account of MFinance at Standard Bank Namibia, account no. 241611377, according to the indictment.
Another victim of the alleged fraud was Afrisam Cement, which was defrauded of N$71 million allegedly by Esmerelda Madjiedt, for N$3.3 million meant as payment for VAT.
In plea explanations handed to the court by defence counsel Bronell Uirab for Mbok and his company and senior counsel Louis Botes assisted by Boris ‘The Mouth’ Isaacks for Nghiwilepo, they denied any wrongdoing.
Mbok denied he knew the money deposited into the bank account of MFinance was meant for the Ministry of Finance or that it was stolen money.
He said he had a business transaction with Chinam Investment and Trading in which he acted as an intermediary for Rafael Limitada Angolan Goldmine for the sale of alluvial gold powder and was supposed to be paid US$599 200 (approximately N$4 million at the time).
Mbok maintains he had a reasonable belief that the money paid into his bank account emanated from this transaction.
Nghiwilepo also denied any knowledge of the stolen cheques.
He said Mbok paid N$25 000 into his account in February 2010 which was a repayment for a loan he made to Mbok.
He admitted knowing Thomas, adding that they met in exile.
The matter has been postponed to Thursday for the State represented by Shakwa Nyambe to sort out issues with court records from the bail hearing which the defence need to prepare their case.