Tax refund fraud trial on hold until August

22 Jul 2019 14:30pm
WINDHOEK, 22 JUL (NAMPA) – The continuation of the trial of 15 people arrested in 2015 in connection with a value added tax (VAT) scam involving about N.dollars 210 million, was Monday put on hold until early next month.
The continuation of the trial was scheduled to resume on Monday but could not proceed because Acting High Court Judge Kobus Miller, who is presiding over the trial, is currently receiving medical attention in a local hospital.
“Acting Judge Kobus Miller is still not feeling well. The presiding acting judge will only be available early next month,” said Judge Christie Liebenberg when he postponed the matter to 02 August 2019.
In the matter, the 15 accused - two Namibians and 13 Angolan nationals - denied any involvement in the commission of the offence.
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 trial before Acting High Court Judge Miller on 18 March 2019.
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.
They did not disclose the basis of their defence and are thus challenging the prosecution team to prove the veracity of each 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 Angolans 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.