Sixth suspect charged in N$3.5 billion fraud

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Maria Amakali

Windhoek-Chinese national Zhihua Gua on Monday was added to the list of five suspects implicated in defrauding the Ministry of Finance of N$3.5 billion.
Zhihua was arrested at Hosea Kutako International Airport over the weekend and made his first appearance in the Windhoek Magistrates’ Court on Monday where he was granted bail of N$1.5 million.

Zhihua was added to the list of five other suspects, namely Yuiqua Haung, Tao Huizhong, Jinrong Huang, Honggang Zhu and Namibian national Julius Laurentius, who are linked to a long chain of politically well-connected business people (of whom many are yet to be arrested). The six accused are charged with tax evasion, fraud and money laundering.

Through his attorney Gilroy Casper, Gua explained he could only pay N$150 000 bail. However, according to the prosecution the bail was sufficient, keeping in mind the N$3.5 billion involved in the fraud.

Bail conditions are almost similar to those of his co-accused – however the State strongly opposed him being given the opportunity to request his passport in case he wishes to travel, fearing he might abscond.

His co-accused Jinrong was granted bail of N$1 million. Tao, Yuiqua, Huang and Julius were all granted bail of N$1.5 million, while Honngang was granted bail of N$500 000.
Even though only six people have been arrested, the investigative officer in the case testified in February that 100 importers and 29 Namibian and Chinese business people, located mostly in the northern parts of the country, are yet to be traced and brought to book.

According to evidence presented in February, between 2010 and December 19, 2016 the Ministry of Finance suffered a potential loss of N$3. 5 billion.
It is alleged the loss was due to under-declaration of the value of goods imported into Namibia and on which customs duties were supposed to be paid.

Those implicated made sure the totals presented for customs clearance was not the same amount they would present at the bank.

Even though the court is yet to determine where the money is, investigations thus far have indicated that a large portion of the money in question was remitted to offshore accounts through Nedbank. The trial of Zhihua and his five co-accused is set to start on August 1.

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