Namfisa’s investigation into suspected pension fraud at one of the country’s leading fishing companies, Novanam, is complete – nearly two years after it began.
Namfisa (Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority) said “The investigation confirmed that there were indeed irregularities with the manner in which benefits were paid, as some members of the said fund did not receive what was due to them in terms of pension pay outs.”
The regulator said yesterday that none of the affected employees would incur losses on their pension fund investments due to the fraud.
Namfisa thus confirmed on the basis of its investigation and interaction with the Luderitz-based fishing firm that “all employees, or former employees of Novanam and their respective beneficiaries, who were affected by the alleged misappropriation have received, or will receive their full benefits as per their years of service and contribution to the pension fund.”
Namfisa started investigating the misappropriation of the pension funds of Novanam employees in September 2013. The investigation was triggered by a Novanam employee, who noticed that his pension benefits were paid into someone else’s account.
The employee subsequently opened a case of fraud with the Lüderitz police, which led to the arrest of NovaNam’s human resource manager and the principal officer of the company’s pension fund, David Pokolo, along with two other people.
The criminal investigation is still continuing, but Namfisa yesterday said it considers the matter closed on its side and “would let the fraud case against Pokolo take its course.” Novanam has since dismissed Pokolo.
It is not yet clear how much of the pension fund money was pilfered, but the fraudulent scheme is estimated to run into several millions.
To allay fears among employees, Novanam confirmed to Namfisa that the employees’ pension fund “had a policy in place to cover risk and incidents related to fraud.”
In concluding its investigation, Namfisa said the Novanam pension fund also gave “assurances that settlements were made in favour of all those whose benefits were initially tampered with illegally.”
“Namfisa is therefore satisfied with assurances that all employees or former employees of Novanam and their respective beneficiaries, who were affected by the alleged misappropriation received or will receive their full benefits as per their years of service and contribution to the pension fund,” a statement from the regulatory body said.
Namfisa had appointed an external audit firm to investigate the claims of fraud at Novanam.