A former police officer, who allegedly committed fraud to the tune of N$10 million, pleaded not guilty yesterday before Windhoek High Court Acting Judge Phillanda Christian.
He made the pleas at the High Court at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.
Ricardo Nghilifavali Nestor is facing 10 charges of fraud, alternatively theft, money laundering, forgery and uttering. His Legal Aid lawyer, Albert Titus, confirmed the pleas and informed the judge his client will not provide a plea explanation, and that he will remain silent in his defence.
It is alleged by the State that Nestor used the skills he acquired through his studies in information technology to swindle Namibia Marble and Granite (NAMAGRA) near Karibib and/or Carmen Bianca Wittreich an amount of N$10 million.
He allegedly hacked the internet banking profile of NAMAGRA and authorised the payment of N$10 million from the company’s Call Account to its Business Account.
From there, he allegedly made payments of N$5.515 million as follows: N$4 million to Altcoin Trader, N$500 000 to Sanele Nkosi, N$500 000 to Lethuvuyo Trading and Projects, 16 x N$20 000 salary payments and 39 e-wallet payments to the tune of N$195 000.
This allegedly happened on 11 August 2018.
It is further alleged by the State that upon or about 11 and 12 September 2018, Nestor logged into the internet banking account of Spot-On Discount Liquor, and made a once-off payment of N$55 481.91 in favour of a trader account, held in South Africa.
He also hacked the internet banking account of SR Van Wyk or Meransha Properties during the same period, and transferred N$34 500 to a Bank Windhoek account held by Spot-On Discount Liquor, the State alleges.
Furthermore, the indictment reads, he hacked into the account of Spot-On Discount Liquor and made payments of N$60 000 to employees of Spot-On Discount Liquor.
The State charges that he also pretended to Taiyo Namibia that the bank account number of Walcon Construction changed from Bank Windhoek to Standard Bank, and that Taiyo should pay an amount of N$720 000 for work done by Walcon into the Standard Bank account.
It was for this last offence that he was arrested in January 2020 in Oranjemund and appeared in the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court, where he was denied bail.
According to the summary of substantial facts in the indictment, Nestor fraudulently accessed the bank accounts of three business entities, upon which he transferred large amounts of money to either himself or accounts to which he had access.
In two of the three instances, he used the same modus operandi, where he fraudulently used municipal accounts of unsuspecting victims and used those municipal accounts to open Altcoin and Bitcoin Trader accounts in South Africa.
The financial director of Namibia Marble and Granite, Bianca Wittreich, yesterday testified she discovered the fraudulent transactions when an employee thanked her and her husband for the “bonus” she paid into their accounts during the weekend.
Knowing she had not paid any bonuses, Wittreich opened her online banking and discovered that N$10 million was transferred from her business call account into her current account and the several transactions that were made.
She further said she immediately called her bank, who advised her to open a criminal case with the police – which she did. She further testified that apart from N$483 000 and some change, she recovered all her money.
The matter continues today, and Nestor remains in custody at the section for trial-awaiting inmates at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.
The State is represented by Basson Lilungwe.