The Anti-Corruption Commission has entered the fray in the parliament corruption scandal that broke over the Easter weekend.
Director general Paulus Noa yesterday praised and lashed National Assembly secretary Lydia Kandetu for her efforts to retrieve the alleged N$1.2 million.
Noa said Kandetu’s good action (to deduct missing money from the accused officials’ pensions and leave gratuity) does not absolve her from the obligation to launch a criminal case.
He maintained a criminal investigation into the matter should have been instituted.
Parliament came under fire over the weekend for allegedly sweeping under the carpet the N$1.2 million squandered by three staff members at parliament.
Noa confirmed the anti-graft case management system could not find a corruption complaint of financial irregularities or embezzlement launched against any official of the National Assembly.
“The accounting officer ought to have reported the allegations against the suspected officials to the criminal law enforcement agencies, while at the same time taking internal measures to recover the money misappropriated. It should not be up to her, in a case of this nature, to decide that launching a criminal investigation would be a waste of money,” Noa said.
Taking into consideration the magnitude of the allegations as circulating on social media and also in print media, Noa said the ACC would initiate a preliminary investigation into the allegations.
“A summon shall be addressed to the secretary to National Assembly, urging her to provide full details of allegations against each suspected official and also to furnish ACC with documentary proof of the total amount of money recovered from the pension or leave gratuity of each suspect,” he said, before adding that based on clear information provided, ACC will then decide whether or not full corruption investigation is warranted.
The scandal at National Assembly was dropped by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliament Celeste Becker, who, in a list of questions, asked parliament about the missing millions. Activist Job Amupanda over the weekend took to social media and gave the National Assembly five days to clarify claims that corrupt officials were made to escape the jaws of justice without the ACC being alerted.
This, and the pressure of the general public, led the National Assembly to release a statement on Saturday to confirm there were indeed three officials who were found to have misappropriated N$1 243 107.94 from the NA. It further said these cases were dealt with in accordance with the set regulations governing government institutions.
“One of the implicated staff members has been discharged, and money has been recovered from the member’s pension. Another staff member has resigned, and money has been recovered from his pension and leave gratuity. The third staff member has resigned, and the recovery process of state monies involved is underway. The allegations levelled against the institution are devoid of any truth and only seek to mislead the public. No multimillion-dollar corruption has taken place at the National Assembly as alleged by Job Amupanda on his social media platforms, nor has the institution covered up corruption,” stated the NA.
“Imagine being summoned to appear before the parliamentary committee on public accounts, answering questions on corruption when the same members and the Speaker are covering up multimillion-dollar corruption at parliament,” said the former Windhoek mayor on his social media accounts.
Meanwhile, the National Council alleged the matter was reported to the ACC, and they were advised to report the matter to the Namibian Police.
“Having received advice from the ACC, based on the facts of the matter, to report to the Namibian Police, the Secretary to the National Council made a report with a comprehensive affidavit and supporting documents to the Serious Crimes Unit of the Namibian Police,” the National Council said on Monday.
“The matter was also reported to Treasury and the Auditor General. The National Council confirms that an officer who worked as an accountant has resigned very soon after the discovery of the questionable payments,” the statement reads.
“The Namibian Police have opened a docket and are working on the matter. We received a report from the police that the suspect was arrested and appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court, and the matter was postponed to 16 May 2022 for preliminary plea proceedings.”
Nelius Becker, who is a former ACC chief investigator, said on Twitter: “Setting a precedent for future crimes. What was procured with the stolen funds? Criminal matters should have been registered and investigated, and action taken in terms of POCA to recover proceeds of crime. How will future crimes be handled?”