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Mbok trial deferred again

2023-07-18  Roland Routh

Mbok trial deferred again

The trial of Cameroonian-born businessman Antoine ‘Tony’ Mbok and his co-accused Daniel David Nghiwilepo was put on ice again, but this time at the request of advocate Taedago Gaweseb. Windhoek High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo last week postponed the matter to 24 October, to give the State a chance to subpoena their remaining witnesses. 

Gaweseb made the application after his last witness, Denzel Jarvis, testified about a cheque from the finance ministry that was paid into the account of Mbok’s company, MFinance.

Jarvis was a bank teller at the Game agency of Standard Bank in January 2010 when a cheque from Chinanam Enterprises meant for the ministry was allegedly deposited into MFinance. 

He said that it was a hectic day and as he did due diligence in verifying the account number the cheque was paid into, he did not go deep into it. 

He was then called after a few weeks upon returning from leave by his supervisor and questioned about the cheque. 

According to Jarvis, he was told that the cheque was meant for the ministry and that apparently, several other cheques meant for the ministry made their way into the account of Mbok’s company account. 

He further told the court that he was given a written warning for his oversight.

Mbok and Nghiwilepo already pleaded not guilty to 10 charges of corruption and money laundering in the Windhoek High Court when their trial started in 2015.

Since then, the trial, which is in its 13th year, has been plagued by delays due to Mbok changing lawyers and a trial-within-a-trial to suppress recordings made by the registry clerk at the finance ministry Veronika Kituna Thomas.

Thomas already pleaded guilty to five counts of corruptly using her office at the ministry and her position for self-gratification at the start of the trial before High Court Judge Alfred Siboleka on 10 February 2012. 

She was sentenced to an effective eight years imprisonment.

After Thomas’ guilty plea, her trial was separated from that of Mbok, his company MFinance and Nghiwilepo.

Mbok, his corporation MFinance and Nghiwilepo face charges of fraud and corruption involving N$3.9 million. MFinance (Pty) Limited is a duly registered company, with Mbok as its sole director.

Mbok is the first and second accused in his capacity as the director of MFinance, whereas Nghiwilepo is the third accused. 

A summary of substantial facts contained in the charge sheet has it that the two men, in cahoots with Thomas, allegedly defrauded several Namibian businesses and government agencies of up to N$3.9 million in Valued Added Tax (VAT) and returns for import VAT.

The State alleges that between 25 January 2010 and 18 February 2010, five cheques, destined for the account of the ministry of finance, were intercepted and deposited into MFinance’s account.

The affected companies and entities in the alleged fraud comprise GS Fainsinger and Associates in the amount of N$121 212.42 for VAT, as well as the Ministry of Health and Social Services/Global Fund in the amount of N$228 494.61 for employee tax. 

Another cheque for employee tax for N$62 905.13 allegedly made it into the coffers of MFinance – this time from Edu-Loan (now Letshego Financial Services Namibia), instead of the ministry of finance. 

Kalahari Sands Hotel and Casino was allegedly the fourth victim when a cheque for the amount of N$202 530.08 for employees’ tax was paid into the account of MFinance at Standard Bank Namibia, account no. 241611377, according to the indictment.

Another victim of the alleged fraud was AfriSam Cement – defrauded for a massive N$71 million by Esmerelda Madjiedt – for which she was convicted and sentenced to 17 years for the amount of N$3 329 489.40, meant as VAT payment. 

Mbok is represented by Silas Kishi-Shakumu on instructions of Legal Aid and Nghiwilepo by Boris Isaacks on private instruction.

2023-07-18  Roland Routh

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