18 Mar 2019 16:20pm
WINDHOEK, 18 MAR (NAMPA) Fifteen people arrested in 2015 in connection with a value added tax (VAT) fraud scam involving about N.dollars 210 million, all on Monday denied any involvement in the commission of the offence.
Two of the accused are Namibian while the remaining 13 are Angolan nationals.
They all denied any involvement in, or knowledge of, the scam when each tendered a not guilty plea to the charges against them at the commencement of the fraud trial that started before Acting High Court Judge Kobus Miller here on Monday.
Acting Judge Miller is being assisted by two legal assessors - John Mandy and Yolande Böttger - in handling the complex proceedings of the trial.
The accused pleaded not guilty to a total of 512 counts of fraud, conspiring to commit fraud, theft, forgery and uttering, money laundering in respect of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act of 2004, 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 was managing the VAT refunds on behalf of the Ministry of Finance.
All the accused denied defrauding the ministry and did not disclose the basis of their defence and are thus challenging the prosecution team to prove the veracity of each and every allegation contained in the indictment.
A total of 117 people are lined up as State witnesses and will give evidence in the matter on behalf of the prosecuting authority.
The two Namibians are Noa Naukosho and key suspect Mamsy Nuuyoma.
The 13 Angolan nationals are Joao dos Santos, Joaquim Espanhol, Lucio Cazembe, Lukau Nestor, Benvindo Momafuba, Pembele Zimutu, Tatiana Gonga, Carlos Eliseu, Isaac Cupessala, Paquete Jose, Malakias Rufine, Carlos Tchinduku and Miapa Nelson.
They 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.
State-funded defence lawyers Winnie Christiaans, Vetu Uanivi, Kalundu Kamwi and Trevor Brockerhoff are representing the accused persons, acting on the instructions of the Justice Ministry's Directorate of Legal Aid.
All accused - except Nuuyoma, Nestor, Momafuba, Zimutu, Gonga, Cazembe, Cupessala and Naukosho - are in police custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility.
State Advocate Henry Muhongo is appearing for the prosecution.
The trial continues Tuesday.