07 Jan 2016 16:10pm
WINDHOEK, 07 JAN (NAMPA) - The bail application hearing of 18 men accused of tax fraud involving over N.dollars 114 million, commenced in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on Thursday.
The group consists of 15 Angolan nationals and three Namibians. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) nabbed them in December last year after allegedly defrauding Government through the finance ministry over the past few years.
Bail was not granted for fear of them absconding to neighbouring Angola as all of them have relatives and friends in that country. The court also stated that releasing them on bail might not be in the interest of the public and the administration of justice.
The accused persons each, through their respective defence lawyers, brought formal bail applications in mid-December 2015.
Six of the 18 accused that applied for bail appeared before Magistrate Hilde Riaan on Thursday morning.
Isaac Cativa Cupessala, 43, who is accused number 11 in the matter, was the first to take the stand in his formal bail hearing.
Asked to explain how he is involved in tax invoices that allow the passage of goods between Angola and Namibia, or any other country, Cupessala said he exports goods to Angola from Namibia for his clients.
The accused, however, did not specify the type of goods he exports.
He explained to the court that in some cases, clients buy products and use his name and his 'commerce card number' to import goods into Angola.
According to Cupessala, the Ministry of Commerce in Angola issued him a commerce card, which allows the passage of goods between Namibia and Angola.
The Angolan national stated that he then receives payment from his clients for using his name and card, and also receives the tax invoices used during the export process, which he then takes to the Ministry of Finance in Namibia for a tax refund.
He informed the court there was no way of authenticating the tax invoices he received from his clients, and denied any involvement in any fraudulent activities, or the State's accusation of falsifying the invoices.
Cupessala further indicated to the court that he would be able to pay N.dollars 10 000 for his release on bail pending trial.
Each of the 18 accused persons face a charge of fraud, forgery and altering an official document. These charges are being dealt with by the court under the provisions of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2006.
Some of the accused persons were arrested at the Ministry of Finance's Value Added Tax (VAT) Office in Ausspannplatz, Windhoek, while claiming and collecting tax refunds.
It is reported that a tax refund agent, who collaborated with the ACC, called the Angolans to come and collect their cheques at the VAT office and this resulted in their arrest.
All 18 suspects are being held in police holding cells at the Windhoek Police Station.
The 14 other accused Angolans are Lukau Nestor; Benvindo Momafuba; Pembele Zimutu; Paulo Kiala; Joaquim Pedro Espanhol; Joao Manuel Dos Santos; Tatiana Luquena Muchadu Gonga; Carlos Victor Eliseu; Paquete Americo Kapayola Jose; Eugenio Pio Do Amaral Gourgel; Malakias Tomas Rufine; Paulino Manuel Natal; Carlos Feliciano Tchinduku; and Miapa Aurelio Nelson.
The three Namibians are Joshua Kaviyu Hidinwa, Mamsy Mweneni Hilma Nuuyoma and Noa 'Boykkie' Naukushu.
The prosecution is led by Public Prosecutor, Andreas Joseph.
The bail hearing continues Thursday.