Windhoek-A Windhoek magistrate on Tuesday issued a final remand for the prosecutor-general (PG) to pronounce herself on the massive N$114 million tax fraud case involving 16 Angolan nationals and three Namibians.
Magistrate Venatius Sebby Alweendo informed the court that given the magnitude of the case he would grant two more months for the PG to make a decision; failing which the case would provisionally be withdrawn from the court roll.
Alweendo made the order following the information from state prosecutor Cedrick Mundia that the PG’s decision was not available, although the matter had been on the roll for substantial period of time.
“We consulted Advocate Muhongo who is dealing with the matter. He has informed us that he is dealing with 55 other cases, further reasoning that given the magnitude of the case and the number of accused involved he was unable to conclude the matter,” Mundia explained.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigated and arrested 16 Angolan nationals and three Namibians in December 2015 for allegedly defrauding the government of N$114 million through the Ministry of Finance between January 2014 and December 2015.
According to a recent Nampa report, the ministry requested the ACC to investigate cases where value added tax (VAT) receipts reportedly were forged in order to claim refunds from the Receiver of Revenue.
Although the group of suspects denies wrongdoing, the prosecution is charging them with forgery and uttering, corruptly giving a false document to an agent of the company Aveshe Consultancy (which manages VAT refunds on behalf of the Finance Ministry), as well as corruptly using a false document, and conspiring to commit fraud.
The group’s attorneys were not pleased with the order, arguing that some of their clients have been in custody since their arrest. The defense team reasoned that the matter has been dragging on for some time, which is an infringement of the suspects’ constitutional rights, as they are entitled to have the matter finalised within a reasonable time.
The legal counsel of the defense includes Immanuel Ujombala, George Neves, Vetu Uanivi, Kadhila Amoomo, Mbushandje Nhinda, Ray Rukoro, Titus Mbaeva, Christian Nambahu and Kalundu Kamwi.
The magistrate then postponed the matter to February 23, 2018 on a final remand in order to await the PG’s decision. “Those in custody are remanded in custody and those out on bail, their bail is extended,” Alweendo ordered.