Unresolved legal aid issues stall tax refund saga trial

25 Feb 2019 14:50pm
WINDHOEK, 25 FEB (NAMPA) – Unresolved issues pertaining to the legal representation of three men arrested in 2015 in connection with a value added tax (VAT) fraud scam involving N.dollars 210 million, have hampered the commencement of the trial.
Sixteen people were arrested in connection with the scam - two Namibians and 14 Angolan nationals.
A date for the start of the trial was supposed to be decided upon Monday before High Court Judge Kobus Miller, but this could not be done as scheduled because accused Joao dos Santos, Joaquim Espanhol and Lucio Cazembe are still without legal representation.
The case was postponed to Thursday to allow the Justice Ministry’s Directorate of Legal Aid to appoint and instruct State-funded defence lawyers to represent the three accused persons.
The two Namibians in the matter are Noa Naukosho and Mamsy Nuuyoma, while the 14 Angolan nationals are Dos Santos, Espanhol, Cazembe, Lukau Nestor, Benvindo Momafuba, Pembele Zimutu, Paulo Kiala, Tatiana Gonga, Carlos Eliseu, Isaac Cupessala, Paquete Jose, Malakias Rufine, Carlos Tchinduku and Miapa Nelson.
The accused were arrested by investigators attached to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) at the end of December 2015 for allegedly defrauding Government of N.dollars 210 million through the Ministry of Finance over a few years.
The arrests followed investigations by the ACC between January 2014 and December 2015 at the request of the ministry into cases where VAT receipts were forged in order to claim refunds from the Receiver of Revenue.
The accused are charged with 512 counts of fraud, conspiring to commit fraud, forgery and uttering, a count of corruptly using false documents and a charge of corruptly giving a false document to an agent of the company, Aveshe Consultancy, which manages VAT refunds on behalf of the finance ministry.
They are being represented by local defence lawyers Kadhila Amoomo, Kalundu Kamwi, Trevor Brockerhoff, George Neves, Hipura Ujaha and Boris Isaacks.
All the accused - except Nuuyoma, Nestor, Momafuba, Zimutu, Gonga, Cazembe, Cupessala and Naukosho - are in police custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility.
Accused Kiala is still at large following his disappearance during 2017, and a warrant for his arrest is also still in force.