N$3,5 billion customs fraud suspect dies

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Maria Amakali

Windhoek-One of eight people facing charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to a staggering N$3.5 billion is said to have passed on.

According to the investigating officer in the case, the police have received a death certificate of Honggang Zhu, the fourth accused person in the fraud case. The authenticity of the death certificate, which is written in Chinese, is yet to be confirmed.

Honggang alongside countrymen Tao Huizhong, Jinrong Huang, Yuiqua Huang, newly added Shushua Cao, Hongying, Zhihua Gua and Namibian national Julius Laurentius, are said to have to been involved in the customs fraud case involving some N$3,5 billion, that was lost by the Ministry of Finance between 2010 and December last year, according to the prosecution.

Police and forensic accounting investigations indicated that the ministry suffered the substantial loss of the amount in question as a result of the under-declaration of the value of goods imported into Namibia on which customs duties were due to be paid.

Investigations have revealed there was a huge difference in the amounts presented at the bank for deposit and that presented at customs for clearance. The suspects allegedly represented the same invoices repeatedly at the bank and at customs, with huge differences in the amounts presented at the bank for deposit.

It was discovered that the money had been remitted through Nedbank to offshore accounts and foreign beneficiaries. The N$3,5 billion allegedly flowed out of Namibia through more than 1,600 transactions done on behalf of more than 100 companies.

During court proceedings yesterday Dirk Conradie requested the court to amend the bail conditions of his client, Laurentius. Conradie wanted his client to report only once a month, as opposed to reporting to Walvis Bay Police station every Monday and Friday, which the court declined.

Following the failure of accused two Jinrong Huang to appear in court yesterday, a warrant for his arrest was issued. Magistrate Venessa Stanley then postponed the matter to June 22 next year for further investigations.

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