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Ponzi scheme case heads for trial-within-a-trial

2023-04-26  Roland Routh

Ponzi scheme case heads for trial-within-a-trial

The trial of a Namibian man who allegedly operated a Ponzi scheme and is accused of defrauding 79 persons to the tune of N$4.3 million, is heading for a trial within a trial to determine the admissibility of various financial statements. 

This came after the Legal Aid instructed lawyer of Sakaria Megameno Namwandi opposed certain documents the State wanted to introduce as evidence.

Lawyer Joseph Andreas, on behalf of Namwandi, asked Windhoek High Court Judge Naomi Shivute to declare a trial-within-a-trial to determine whether the documents were obtained using the correct procedures. According to him, the bank statements of Namwandi and his close corporation Asset Legacy Investment CC were obtained in contravention of the right to privacy as guaranteed in Article 13 of the Constitution.

Namwandi and his entity is facing 123 charges of fraud, alternatively theft by false pretence; 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. He denied all the charges. It is alleged that Namwandi was the sole member of Asset Legacy Investment CC, and 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 that 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. 

Andreas further claimed that the bank statements were obtained without a search warrant as well as in contravention of the Banking Institutions Act as the Board of the Bank of Namibia did not authorise any person in writing to investigate or obtain any records, especially the bank statements of the accused during October 2019. Further, he said, Romeo Nel, the Bank’s chief compliance officer was not duly authorised to analyse or investigate, in particular, to search for any book, record, or banking statements of the accused. He also placed the authenticity of bank statements in dispute. He also claims that the accused were not provided with disclosure of any notice in terms of the Banking Institutions Act and as such the evidence obtained was not done following the correct procedures which constitutes a breach of the accused’s right to a fair trial.

Andreas told the judge that he will argue that the bank statements were obtained in violation of section 179 (1)(b) of the Criminal Procedures Act which is only applicable to criminal proceedings in the lower courts and not in the High Court. State advocate Constance Moyo indicated to the court that she will oppose the application and told the court that she will need some time to line up her witnesses who will testify about the authenticity of the documents as well as the manner in which it was obtained. The judge remanded the matter to today for a status hearing to determine the dates for the

2023-04-26  Roland Routh

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