NEPC opens theft and fraud case against former CEO

10 Sep 2019 17:50pm
WINDHOEK, 10 SEP (NAMPA) – The New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC) has opened a case of theft and fraud against the corporation's former boss, Audrin Mathe for transferring a company vehicle to his name without its blessing and knowledge, information at Nampa's disposal reveals.
This comes after the corporation learned last week that Mathe transferred and registered the company vehicle - a grey Range Rover Sport - which was purchased for the use of NEPC chief executive officer, to his name, despite leaving the position in January 2019.
The NEPC has also drawn the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) into the matter as it seeks recourse in the longstanding matter.
The car was transferred and registered to Mathe's name on 04 April 2019, three months after his departure from the corporation.
When his contract ended, Mathe refused to hand over the car's keys to NEPC, citing that it was part of his employment package Nampa understands.
The filing of charges was confirmed by NEPC board chairperson, Esau Mbako, in an interview with Nampa on Tuesday.
The decision take the matter up with the police was taken at a board meeting on Monday evening as the board of directors lacks clarity on how Mathe was able make the transfer without their consent.
“I can confirm that cases have been opened. I refer you both to the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) and the ACC. I have no further comment on the matter due to its associated sensitivity,” Mbako said.
Nampa has further discovered that Mathe used inconclusive board documents (resolutions and minutes) to execute the transfer.
NamPol spokesperson, Chief Inspector Kauna Shikwambi, also confirmed that a case had been opened against the former CEO.
“[The case] is legit and that's all we can confirm now. It is a case of theft and fraud [and it was] opened at the Windhoek Police Station,” Shikwambi said, adding that the case number is CR221/09/2019.
Mathe and his legal representatives’ position has been that the vehicle de facto became his at the time his contract lapsed in January 2019, according to sources briefed on the matter.
The NEPC board of directors is however of the view that the vehicle is a property of NEPC.
When contacted for comment on Tuesday, Mathe directed all queries to his lawyer, Norman Tjombe, who could not be reached on his cellphone.
The NEPC board, then led by former Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) chief executive officer (CEO) Tarah Shaanika, bought the luxury vehicle for around N$1.1 million to be used by the incumbent CEO.
The conditions attached to this benefit were that if Mathe's employment contract came to an end, he would be given preference to buy the vehicle from NEPC at its commercial value, which currently stands at around N.dollars 600 000, or leave it for future CEOs.
NEPC paid a monthly instalment of N$51 263.97 for the car, according to its audit report for the 2016/17 financial year.
NEPC continues to pay for the vehicle's insurance to this day.
Initially, NEPC wanted to have the car parked until the matter is resolved, according to sources.
This was however challenged by Mathe through his then legal representative, Sisa Namandje, documents seen by Nampa show.
To avoid unnecessary tension between the corporation and Mathe, he was allowed to keep the car, with a view that the matter would be resolved amicably, Nampa further understands.
As it stands, the transfer of the vehicle was never sanctioned or signed off by the Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, as required by Treasury Rules.
Information and Technology Minister, Stanley Simataa is also in the dark about the matter.
Nampa further understand that while at NEPC, Mathe was also entitled to vehicle allowance of around N.dollars 7000, in addition to a vehicle maintenance allowance of around N.dollars 3000.
If the N.dollars 51 263.97 monthly instalment is to be taken into account, it means that NEPC on average was paying N.dollars 61 263.97 on Mathe's ambulatory needs per month.
According to recent reports, the corporation will embark on a holistic turnaround strategy in order to cut unnecessary expenditure and realign employee salary structures to meet public enterprises requirements in order to make it a self-sustaining entity.