N$3.5 billion suspect offers N$2 million bail

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Windhoek

One of the three suspects arrested in connection with his alleged involvement in the illicit transfer of some N$3.5 billion has offered to pay a lump sum of N$2 million for his freedom.

Namibian national Julius Laurentius, 47, told the court on Friday that he was willing to pay half a million for his bail and further informed the court that if the State opposes the N$500 000 offer he was willing to fork out N$2 million to be released.

Laurentius and his co-accused, Chinese nationals Tao Huizhong, 46, and Jinrong Huang, 36, face charges of fraud and tax evasion amounting to N$3.5 billion.

It is alleged the three defrauded the Ministry of Finance between the start of 2010 and December 19 last year in the calculation and payment of customs duties.

The charges involve an eye-watering amount of N$3,5 billion in actual or potential losses suffered by the ministry as a result of the under-declaration of the value of goods imported into Namibia, on which customs duties were due to be paid.

It was lately discovered there was a huge difference in the amount presented at the bank for deposit and that presented at customs for clearance.

Over 100 importers are said to be implicated in the multimillion-dollar fraud and money-laundering case.
The amounts reportedly paid out to foreign beneficiaries do not correlate with the amounts on the invoices.
A substantial amount is said to have been remitted to offshore accounts through Nedbank.

Laurentius informed Magistrate Alweendo Venatius that he needed to be released on bail, as his business depends heavily on his personal presence and due to his absence his business and family are suffering greatly.

Laurentius owns a transport and customs clearing company, Extreme Customs Clearing Services (XCCS), which has branches at various locations in the country.

He told the court he was the one that alerted the Ministry of Finance to the discrepancies and requested that a review be undertaken at the customs office.

Defence attorneys, Sisa Namandje and Louis Botes, the latter acting on instruction from Dirk Conradie and Associates, were in agreement though that the prosecution does not have a case against their clients and maintained that the forensic evidence conducted by KPMG, a South African-based forensic auditing firm, do not directly link the suspects to the money in question.

The accused men will likely hear the outcome of their bail applications today.

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