Application on objections by Avid/SSC suspects dismissed

23 May 2014 18:40pm
WINDHOEK, 23 MAY (NAMPA) - An application on objections to charge the suspects in the Avid Investment and Social Security Commission (SSC) fraud scam under the repealed Companies’ Act of 1973, has been dismissed.
The application on the objections challenging the legality of the charges against the seven suspects in the N.dollars 30 million fraud scam was dismissed in a ruling handed down by High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg on Friday morning.
“The seven accused persons are being charged by the State under the provisions of a repealed law, which was in existence at the time they committed the alleged offence. This law is still in force and can be applied in any Namibian court and the seven accused persons can be charged under this law. Therefore, the application by the seven accused persons is dismissed,” said Judge Liebenberg as he ruled in favour of the prosecution team (State).
The alleged fraud case was, thereafter, on Friday remanded until Tuesday next week in order to allow the defence lawyers to prepare the statements for pleas of their clients.
The suspects in the matter were all directors in the little-known Avid Investment Asset Management Company, which allegedly obtained money from the SSC through its links in the ruling Swapo-Party.
They are Windhoek-based businessman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Namangol Asset Management Company Nico Josea; former Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Paulus Iilonga Kapia; Avid Investment's Administrative Secretary Inez //Gases; former Acting Secretary-General of the National Youth Council (NYC) Ralph Blaauw; and his wife Sharon Blaauw.
The other two suspects are Labour Ministry official and lawyer Otniel Podewiltz, and retired Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Brigadier Mathias Shiweda.
The seven former Avid Investment directors are each separately charged with 10 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, corruption and giving false evidence in an inquiry in terms of the Companies' Act.
In 2005, Avid Investment made headlines when it allegedly acquired N.dollars 30 million from the SSC, allegedly under dubious circumstances.
The money was then apparently invested in an offshore company, but it could later not be accounted for.
The disappearance of the money led to a High Court inquiry before acting Judge Raymond Heathcote in 2005.
Avid Investment CEO Lazarus Kandara, who was believed to be the kingpin in the Avid/SCC saga, allegedly committed suicide while under police escort in front of the Windhoek Police Station during the inquiry.
All suspects are free on bail of N.dollars 10 000 each, which was on Friday extended until their next court appearance on Tuesday next week.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondedze assisted by State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi are appearing for the prosecution.
Windhoek-based defence lawyers Sisa Namandje, Advocate Richard Metcalfe, Christie Mostert, Werner Boesak and Dirk Conradie are defending the seven accused persons.