Investigator in N$3.5 billion case accused of bias

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Windhoek – A defence lawyer in the multimillion dollar fraud case involving two Chinese nationals and a Namibian suspect portrayed the chief investigator as a biased state witness.

Sisa Namandje who is representing Tao Huizhong, 46, and Jinrong Huang, 36, in the N$3.5 billion fraud case, told the court that chief investigative officer John Mutongwe is not objective in presenting the facts. Namandje made the submission during day five of the hearing for a bail application yesterday in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court.

In a heated cross-examination Namandje challenged Mutongwe to provide concrete evidence that links his two clients to the charges, to which Mutongwe shouted in response: “You just want me to present evidence that will favour your clients.”

The manner in which the investigative officer was conducting himself was biased, making the state’s case weak, said Namandje.

Namandje explained to the court that the state had no factual evidence that directly linked his clients to fraud, yet the state objects to bail when it cannot provide substantial evidence to back up its theories. Since day one the state has been opposing bail on the grounds that investigations are still at a premature stage, high risk of interference with the investigations and witnesses, fear of the suspects absconding, fear of accused committing further offences, and that it would not be in the best interest of the public as the amount in question is due to the Ministry of Finance, which is a public institution.

Public prosecutor Rowan van Wyk expressed to the court that the companies in question, which are Golden Phoenix, Golden Star CC and Xtreme Customs Clearing Services CC, are solely owned by the three accused respectively, showing that the accused were well aware of these transactions and omission of funds.

Accused number three Julius Laurentius who is the owner of Xtreme Customs Clearing Services CC is said to be at the centre of the whole syndicate as the company was responsible for remittances for at least 1 600 transactions worth N$3.5 billion to China for 100 Chinese-owned import companies.

The alleged defrauding of the Ministry of Finance occurred between 2010 and December 19, 2015. The value in question is the actual or potential losses suffered by the ministry as a result of the under-declaration of the value of goods imported into Namibia and on which customs duties were supposed to have been paid.

After the exchanges during the submissions which took almost six hours, magistrate Alweendo Venatius ruled that the bail judgement would be ready next Monday.

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