20 Mar 2019 15:10pm
WINDHOEK, 20 MAR (NAMPA) A Swakopmund property developer on trial in the High Court on various charges of fraud and theft involving over N.dollars 1 million, was on Wednesday sentenced to pay a fine of N.dollars 250 000.
Swiss-born Hans Peter Rothen, 73, was sentenced to pay the fine by High Court Judge Naomi Shivute after the court earlier found him guilty on 10 charges of fraud and a count of theft in respect of contravention of the regulations of Namibia's Close Corporations Act 26 of 1988.
The charges emanated from the ending of the business relationship between Rothen and another member of Sea Side Properties Investment Close Corporation, Bernd Muller during 2002.
On the first eight counts of fraud of about N.dollars 1 103 490, which were taken together for the purposes of sentencing, Rothen was sentenced to pay a fine of N.dollars 40 000 or four years imprisonment.
On the ninth count in respect of the theft of N.dollars 150 000 for taking money that belonged to Sea Side Properties and claiming the money had been due to him and his wife as wages, Rothen was sentenced to pay a fine of N.dollars 150 000 or 18 months imprisonment.
On the 10th count of fraud by obtaining about 50 per cent members interest in the company, he was sentenced to pay a fine of N.dollars 5 000 or one year imprisonment.
On the last and 11th count of fraud by transferring N.dollars 1 093 471 from Sea Side Properties bank account to a bank account belonging to himself, Rothen was sentenced to pay a fine of N.dollars 40 000 or four years imprisonment.
In the result, Rothen was sentenced to pay a total fine of N.dollars 250 000 or serve a custodial term of 10 years and eight months.
The offence of fraud is very serious. It is also rampant in Namibia. Hans Peter Rothen caused actual and potential prejudice to the close corporation (CC) as well as to the other members of the CC. He also committed theft of credit. Even though counsel for the State has recommended the imposition of a direct custodial sentence on fraud counts one to eight, I consider that given the convicts advanced age, his poor state of health and the circumstances of the case generally, a custodial term will be an inappropriate punishment, said Judge Shivute as she handed down the sentence.
Evidence presented during trial showed that Rothen and Muller entered into a property development partnership in February 2002 and the two men each held a 50 per cent interest in the company, through which they were to develop property in the coastal town.
However, between 15 January 2003 and 25 March 2004, Rothen paid eight value-added tax cheques that the Ministry of Finance had issued in favour of Sea Side Properties Investment into a bank account of a company, Sea Side Properties, of which he (Rothen) was the sole owner, instead of paying the cheques into the close corporation's bank account.
The cheques had a total value of N.dollars 1 093 471.43.
Rothen, who was free on bail of N.dollars 75 000, came to Namibia in 1976 and is a first-time offender without a record of previous criminal offences.
He suffers from acute diabetes.
Prominent Windhoek-based defence lawyer, Advocate Louis Botes defended Rothen.
State Advocate Seredine Jacobs represented prosecution.
Rothen was seen making arrangements for the payment of the fine on Wednesday.