All the accused in the long-running B1 City fraud and corruption case, including former CEO of the Roads Contractor Company Kelly Nghixulifwa and two business associates entered pleas of not guilty when their trial finally started before Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday.
The 59-year-old Nghixulifwa, Anna Ndoroma (53) and Hafeni Nghinamwaami (51) all answered emphatically not guilty after prosecutor Hezekiel Iipinge read out the eleven counts in the indictment.
The three accused face charges of fraud and contravening the Anti-Corruption Act. At the centre of the matter is a loan of N$4.8 million that Nghixulifwa had allegedly secured for Ae //Gams Engineering to purchase Erf 10485 along Independence Avenue without declaring his interest in the company.
Nghixulifwa, who resigned after the ambitious construction of the B1 City project hit a snag, is facing 11 charges of fraud and contravening the Anti-Corruption Act while Ndoroma and Nghinamwaami face four counts. Nghixulifwa’s lawyer Veikko Alexander confirmed the plea was in accordance with his instructions and read into record a plea explanation on behalf of his client.
According to the plea explanation, Nghixulifwa does not dispute that he was the RCC CEO during the time the alleged offences were committed. He, however, denied each and every allegation in the indictment and put it to the State to prove the case against him.
He said that as CEO of the company, he had the power and the duty to oversee programmes of the entity to ensure its survival and he always acted within the scope of his powers and the authority of the board. He thus rejected the allegations made against him and his professional life with the contempt it deserves.
He further denied that he ever was a shareholder or intended to acquire shares in Ae //Gams Engineering as the State claims. Nghixulifwa also denied having ever made misrepresentations or induce the board of RCC to actual or perceived prejudice or that he used his office for self-gratification.
He also stated that he was never a director of RCC and disputed the notion that he can be tried as such. With regards to the charge that he conspired with Ndoroma and Nghinamwaami to defraud RCC and Murray and Roberts of N$150 000 in the guise that Craddle Investment – belonging to Nghinamwaami and where Ndoroma was his nominee shareholder – was a project manager in the construction of RCC headquarters, he claimed that charge is untenable. He said so because in his view, the alleged offence was committed in December 2004 and ACC only came into existence in April 2005. According to him, this charge is invalid and tramples his constitutional rights.
Silas Kishi-Shikumu also confirmed to the judge that Ndoroma’s pleas was in accordance with her instructions and further informed the judge his client will make use of her right to remain silent and place the burden on the State to prove each and every allegation against her.
Trevor Brockerhoff who is on record for Nginamwaami also said his client will remain silent and not disclose the basis of his defence and place the onus squarely on the shoulders of the prosecution to prove the allegations against him. The trial is continuing today and all three accused are free on bail.