The main accused in the tax refund fraud trial, which is ongoing in the Windhoek High Court, has denied any wrongdoing before acting Judge Kobus Miller.
Mamsy Mweneni Nuuyoma is facing 626 counts, including defeating or attempting to defeat the course of justice in addition to other charges.
The 30-year-old worked at Aveshe Consultancy, the company, which managed value-added tax (VAT) refunds on behalf of the Ministry of Finance at the time the alleged crimes were committed.
It is alleged she stole more than N$3.3 million, conspiring with Angolan citizen Lukau Nestor (56) who absconded after getting bail. Nuuyoma strongly denied any wrongdoing on her part and reiterated her earlier denials that documents, including invoices and customs papers, which were found at her then place of residence, belonged to her.
At the time, she shared an apartment with Noah Boykie Naukosho (30). Naukosho is facing six counts amounting to N$2.4 million.
He has not testified yet as he is accused 14. According to Nuuyoma, she had no idea about the fleecing of state coffers at the agency where she processed VAT refund claims for exports from Namibia and was flabbergasted when her name was linked to the fraud. Earlier, Miller had declined to discharge the accused during a section 174 application. She is represented by Advocate Winnie Christiaans on instructions of Legal Aid.
The second accused to deny the charges against him was Angolan national Benvindo Momafuba (48) who is facing 18 charges amounting to N$1.7 million. He too refuted any claims that he unlawfully benefitted from the massive fraud.
He is represented by Marven Katuvesirauina.
After him came Pembele Zimutu (56), another Angolan facing 48 counts totaling N$11.3 million, also represented by Katuvesirauina. He told the court that he worked for an Angolan businessman called Alphonso Lubadika as a driver and that Lubadika was the one that claimed the refunds.
He further said that he is “illiterate in business” and believed Lubadika when the latter told him that everything was above board even where his name was used although he did not buy any stock in Namibia for export to Angola.
According to Zimutu, he merely collected the cheques from Aveshe, cashed it and handed over the money to Lubadika in turn for a small token of appreciation. Another Angolan, 37-year-old Joachim Pedro Espanhol who is facing nine counts totaling over N$900 000, also took to the stand to testify.
He informed the court that he was a businessman that bought stock in Namibia and exported it to Angola. According to him, he never had any dealings with Aveshe, Nuuyoma or the finance ministry as he always declared his purchases at the Oshikango border post and the officials there would fill in the required forms and submit the claims on his behalf. He admitted that he received around N$86 900 in refunds but was adamant that bit was only once.
The accused excluding Nuuyoma who faces only 626, are facing 629 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, money laundering and contravening the Anti-Corruption Act.
According to the summary of substantial facts in the indictment, accused two to 14 and in consent with Nuuyoma submitted fraudulent claims for VAT refunds to Aveshe and the Ministry of Finance.
The amount involved in the tax fraud scam has more than doubled from the initial N$114 million to more than N$210 million, it emerged from the indictment document. The rest of the accused will take their turns in the witness box during the next few weeks.