Judgement in Mbok bail conditions amendment put on hold

29 May 2013 11:00
WINDHOEK, 29 APR (NAMPA) - The High Court on Wednesday postponed a judgement in an application by the State for the amendment of the bail conditions of alleged fraud suspect Antoine Mbok.
A ruling on the State application for the amendment of Mbok's bail conditions will now be handed down in the High Court on 30 July this year.
High Court Judge Nate Ndaeundapo, who presided over the hearing of the application earlier this month, was not available on Wednesday to deliver the verdict on the matter.
The judgement was thus postponed to 30 July this year, as per agreement reached by the Judge with Mbok's defence lawyer Brownell Uirab and State Advocate Shakwa Nyambe.
Cameroon-born Mbok, who is charged together with two Namibians in a trial involving N.dollars 3,9 million, was released from police custody during December 2010 on bail of N.dollars 3 000 after he brought a formal bail application before the Windhoek Magistrate's Court.
That bail was granted without any stringent bail conditions attached to it, apart from that of not interfering with police investigations conducted by officers of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) at the time.
However, the prosecution, led by State Advocate Nyambe, brought an urgent application before High Court Judge Ndauendapo earlier this month, asking the court to allow additional conditions to be added onto Mbok's bail.
?We are applying for further bail conditions to be added onto Mbok's bail. We would like Mbok to report himself on some days per week to any of the police stations in Windhoek. We would also want Mbok to hand over his passport to the investigators at the office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). We fear that the accused person will abscond from Namibia to other countries in order to avoid prosecution due to the strength of the State's case against him,? said Nyambe in his submissions.
But Mbok's Government-funded defence lawyer Uirab strongly opposed the State's application.
?The State did not show to this court that there is reasonable evidence sufficient enough to allow the granting of the State's request for further bail conditions to be added to my client's bail. My client is a businessman, and he needs to travel to other countries to conduct his business operations,? argued Uirab.
He said Mbok?s business of importing satellite dishes required that travels outside Namibia to attend meetings and shop around for the goods.
?None of the fears of the State for absconding are justified because my client has travelled outside Namibia seven times after he was released from police custody in December 2010. He could have remained outside Namibia if he wanted to do so,? he added.
Mbok is charged with fraud, along with 37-year-old Veronika Kituna Thomas, a former registry clerk at the Ministry of Finance, and Daniel Nghiwilepo, 40, who is currently in the employ of Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR).
Thomas was on 26 March last year (2012) sent to jail for eight years, after she admitted guilt to charges of fraud and corruption involving N.dollars 3.9 million.
The 39-year-old Thomas pleaded guilty to five counts of corruptly using her office at the Ministry of Finance and her position for self-gratification when she admitted to the charges of fraud and corruption.
For this offence and upon her own guilty pleas on five counts, she was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by High Court Judge Alfred Siboleka.
As per Judge Siboleka's order, four years of the imposed punishment were suspended for a period of five years on condition that Thomas does not commit any offence of fraud and corruption during the period of suspension.
As a result, she was sentenced to a total of eight years imprisonment.
The trio of Mbok, Nghiwilepo and convict Thomas allegedly defrauded several companies and government agencies of up to N.dollars 3,9 million in Valued-Added Tax (VAT) and returns for import VAT.
The indictment states that between 25 January 2010 and 18 February 2010, five cheques were intercepted at the Ministry of Finance by Thomas and deposited into Mbok's company (M Finance) bank account.
According to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which was the investigating agency of the alleged fraud and corruption case, the five affected entities were GS Fainsinger Associates and Consulting Engineers; the Ministry of Health and Social Services' Global Fund; Edu Loan (now Letshego Financial Services Namibia); Kalahari Sands Hotel and Casino; and Afrisam Cement Namibia.
However, Mbok and Nghiwilepo each pleaded not guilty to the 10 charges related to fraud and corruption, and their case was separated from that of Thomas.
Mbok's company is a corporate body, and is duly registered as M Finance (Pty) Limited in accordance with Namibian company laws.
The ACC said that after the deposits were made to Mbok's company, N.dollars 277 450 was withdrawn, while a further US.dollars 14 730 (about N.dollars 103 000) was transferred electronically to a company called Strong Technologies for the purchase of Strong Digital Satellite Receivers in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
At the time that the deposits were made into Mbok's company account, several names of depositors were allegedly used by the accused persons in order to conceal the nature, origin, location, disposition and movement of the property, the ACC stated.
Mbok is free on bail of N.dollars 3 000, while Nghiwilepo is free on warning.
Boris Isaaks is representing accused Nghiwilepo in the matter.