N$3.5bn fraud case postponed

Home National N$3.5bn fraud case postponed
N$3.5bn fraud case postponed

A group of businessmen and women, accused of defrauding the government of N$3.5 billion in taxes, had their case postponed yesterday by the Windhoek High Court.

Coastal clearing agent Julius Laurentius and his Chinese co-accused Ying Zhang, who were the only ones in attendance during their second pretrial appearance, were informed by Judge Christie Liebenberg that the matter was postponed to 18 January 2024.

This is to allow for the defence to acquaint themselves with the contents of the State’s disclosure.

The court issued a warrant of arrest against the accused: Tao Huizdong, Yuiqua (Jack) Haung, Zhihua Gao, Cao Shuhua, Li Dan and Hong Ying Jia. Liebenberg indicated that the warrant of arrest will be held over until the next court date.

Liebenberg made the order after Sisa Namandje, on behalf of Huizdong and Haung, told the court that his clients’ flight from Angola was cancelled – and as such, they could not make it to the court. 

On behalf of Gao, Shuhua and Dan, Namandje said they were stuck in China. 

He, however, informed the judge that all his clients would be present at the next hearing. 

Namandje also informed the court that they received the revised indictment, which consists of 184 pages, only yesterday; hence, he will need time to study it and consult with his clients. 

Slysken Makondo, who represents Julius and his entities, Extreme Customs Clearing Services and Organise Freight Services CC, informed the court they agree with Namandje’s arguments. 

Immanuel Tomas, who stood in for Louis du Pisani on behalf of Jia, informed the court that his client was stuck in Oshikango. 

Laurentius and his co-accused are facing 1 580 counts of tax evasion, fraud and money laundering, involving N$3.5 billion.

The group was arrested in 2017 for allegedly having a hand in the N$3.5 billion loss incurred by the Ministry of Finance between 2010 and 2016.

One of the accused, Jinrong Huang, fled the country and died in China, according to media reports.

According to police and forensic accounting evidence presented during the accused’s formal bail hearing, the ministry suffered losses of the substantial amount in question as a result of the under-declaration of the value of goods imported into Namibia and on which customs duties were supposed to be paid. 

The investigations instigated by the Bank of Namibia revealed there was an outflow of foreign currency from Namibia. 

During the investigation, it was discovered that N$3.5 billion was shipped out of the country through Laurentius’ business Xtreme Customs Clearing Services, amongst others. 

Investigators unearthed that imports were under-declared at customs and over-declared at the bank, resulting in losses of billions of dollars to Namibia.

The evidence indicated there was a huge difference in the amount presented at the bank for deposit and that which was presented at customs for clearance. 

The amount allegedly paid to foreign beneficiaries does not correlate with the amount on the invoices. 

The substantial amount is said to have been remitted to offshore accounts through a local bank.

All accused persons are currently on bail, ranging between N$500 000 and N$1.5 million, respectively. 

– rrouth@nepc.com.na