Windhoek-Windhoek High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo issued a warrant of arrest for Cameroonian-born businessman Antoine ‘Tony’ Mbok, 40, after he failed to show up for his court appearance yesterday.
Mbok and his co-accused Daniel David Nghiwilepo, 41, were set for their corruption trial which resumed after a hiatus of more than a year.
According to Mbok’s legal aid lawyer, Bronell Uirab, he has suffered a back injury and is set to undergo a back operation in his native Cameroon.
The warrant of arrest was held over until their next appearance on March 1 next year.
The trial, which was supposed to have started in 2013 already, has been hampered by setbacks and delays.
Judge Ndauendapo was to give a ruling on the admissibility of voice recordings Veronika Kituna Thomas allegedly made of conversations she had with Nghiwilepo.
Thomas already pleaded guilty to five counts of corruptly using her office at the Ministry of Finance and her position for self-gratification at the start of the trial before High Court Judge Alfred Siboleka on February10, 2012, and was sentenced to an effective eight years’ imprisonment.
After Thomas’ guilty plea her trial was separated from that of Mbok, his company MFinance and Nghiwilepo.
A summary of the charge sheet has it that the two men in cahoots with Thomas – who was a registry clerk at the Ministry of Finance – allegedly defrauded several Namibian businesses and government agencies of up to N$3.9 million in valued-added tax (VAT) and returns for import VAT.
Mbok, his corporation MFinance and Namibian national, Daniel David Nghiwilepo, 40, face charges of fraud and corruption involving N$3.9 million.
MFinance (Pty) Limited is a duly registered corporate body, registered in accordance with Namibian laws with Mbok as its sole owner and director.
Mbok is the first and second accused in his capacity as the director of MFinance and Nghiwilepo the third accused.
They entered not guilty pleas to the 10 charges of fraud and corruption at a plea hearing in 2015.
The State alleges that between January 25, 2010 and February18, 2010, five cheques destined for the account of the Ministry of Finance were intercepted and deposited into Mbok’s company account.
The affected companies and entities in the alleged fraud comprises GS Fainsinger and Associates in the amount of N$121,212.42 for value added tax, and the Ministry of Health and Social Services/Global Fund in the amount of N$228,494.61 for employees tax.
Another cheque for employees tax for the amount of N$62,905.13 allegedly made it into the coffers of MFinance, this time from Edu-Loan (now Letshego Financial Services Namibia) instead of the Ministry of Finance.
Kalahari Sands Hotel and Casino was allegedly the fourth victim when a cheque for the amount of N$202,530.08 for employees tax was paid into the account of MFinance at Standard Bank Namibia, account no. 241611377, according to the indictment.
Another victim of the alleged fraud was Afrisam Cement for the amount of N$3,329,489.40 meant as payment for VAT.
It also alleged that the accused wilfully and unlawfully used various disguises under which they deposited the cheques.
It is further alleged by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which was the investigating agency in the alleged fraud and corruption case, that after the deposits were made N$277,450 was withdrawn, while a further US$14,730 (about N$103,000) was transferred electronically to a company called Strong Technologies for the purchase of Strong Digital Satellite Receivers in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Mbok is currently free on bail while Nghiwilepo, who is represented by Advocate Louis Botes on instructions from Boris Isaacks, is free on a warning.