More light shed on N$3.5 billion fraud

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Windhoek

The chief investigative officer in the massive fraud and money laundering case involving some N$3.5 billion revealed in court yesterday that 29 more suspects are yet to be arrested.

The multi-billion-dollar fraud case involving three Chinese nationals and a Namibian customs official from Walvis Bay is yet to be resolved, as 29 suspects linked to the chain are yet to be traced, he said.
So far only four people have been arrested.

During cross-examination on the fourth day of the bail application hearing, chief investigative officer John Mutongwe informed the court that more people are yet to be arrested, with possible charges to be added to the existing ones.

Three of the four accused, who are still in custody, stand accused of money-laundering and defrauding the Ministry of Finance between the start of 2010 until December 19, 2016 through the fraudulent calculation and payment of customs duties on imported goods.

During the period in question the ministry suffered losses amounting to an estimated N$3.5 billion, which emanated from the under-declaration of the real value of goods imported into Namibia and on which customs duties were due to be paid.

The accused men allegedly represented the same invoices at the bank and at customs with huge discrepancies in the amounts presented at the bank for deposit and that presented at customs for clearance.

The amounts paid to foreign beneficiaries allegedly do not correlate with the amounts on the invoices and a substantial amount is said to have been remitted to offshore accounts through Nedbank.

Mutongwe explained to Magistrate Alweendo Venatius that the accused – before their arrest – had tried to meddle with the investigation when they tried to amend some of their entries with the Ministry of Finance by writing letters to say there were discrepancies with their entries that they did not detect over the previous three years.

The accused men allegedly tried to amend certain entries between 2013 and 2015.

The investigative officer said it was strange how the suspects only detected discrepancies on their invoices when police investigations started. The number of questionable transactions currently stand at 1 600.
The bail hearing is expected to continue today.

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