N$4.3m Ponzi scheme trial hits a snag

Home National N$4.3m Ponzi scheme trial hits a snag
N$4.3m Ponzi scheme trial hits a snag

The trial of a man, who allegedly operated a Ponzi scheme and allegedly ended up defrauding 79 persons of N$4.3 million, is currently embroiled in a trial-within-a-trial over bank statements.

After State advocate Constance Moyo wanted to introduce the statements obtained from Bank Windhoek, Joseph Andreas, who is representing Sakaria Megameno Namwandi and his close corporation Asset Legacy Investment, objected to the admissibility of the statements.

According to Andreas, the statements were obtained illegally, as the person who obtained them had no authorisation to do so. 

Andreas further claimed that the bank statements were obtained without a search warrant as well as in contravention of the Banking Institutions Act, as Bank of Namibia’s board did not authorise any person in writing to investigate or obtain any records, especially the bank statements of the accused during October 2019.  Romeo Nel, the director of banking supervision at the Bank of Namibia, obtained the statements. 

During his testimony in the trial-within-a-trial, Nel testified that he obtained the statements in line with his duties, according to the Banking Institutions Act. He further said he had written authorisation from his superiors at the central bank after he did assessments on Namwandi and his company, Asset Legacy, after they were suspected of illegal doings.

It is his testimony that he then approached his director at the bank to get authorisation to further investigate. 

Andreas, however, put it to Nel that he had no authorisation from Namwandi to obtain his bank statements. 

According to him, Article 13 of the Constitution stipulates that every person has the right to privacy – and that Nel infringed on that right when he obtained the statements without Namwandi’s explicit consent. 

He further said in the event he received authorisation in terms of the Banking Act, he needed a search and seizure warrant from a magistrate to access the bank statements, which he did not have. 

Nel was, however, adamant that he followed the correct procedures to obtain the statements. 

Namwandi and his entity pleaded not guilty to all counts in November 2022 in the Windhoek High Court before Judge Naomi Shivute. 

He is facing 123 charges of fraud, alternatively theft by false pretences; one count of money laundering; one count of racketeering; one count of conducting banking business while not authorised, and one count of conducting a Ponzi scheme.

In addition, he is charged with two counts of tax evasion and two counts of failure to pay tax. 

It is alleged that Namwandi was the sole member of Asset Legacy Investment CC, and he had the duty to conduct legitimate business on behalf of the entity and facilitate the reception of legitimate business funds held at various banks. 

The State claims he formulated and operated a Ponzi scheme in which he, through the entity, advertised two types of investment facilities to members of the public, through face-to-face interactions as well as social media platforms under the guise that the invested funds would be traded on foreign exchange platforms with a return of 50% within 30 days. 

Namwandi is on bail, and the case continues.

– rrouth@nepc.com.na