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Court defers N$3.5bn fraud case

2020-12-08  Roland Routh

Court defers N$3.5bn fraud case
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The Office of the Prosecutor General has indicated to the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court that it will be ready with its decision on where and what charges to arraign coastal clearing agent Julius Laurentius and his Chinese co-accused on 12 April next year.

Prosecutor Tatelo Lusepani informed magistrate Ivan Gawanab he received instructions from the prosecutor general to ask for a further postponement, as the docket is quite voluminous, and she needs more time to scrutinise it. Laurentius, alongside Chinese businessman Jack Huang and several co-accused Chinese nationals, were arrested in 2017 for allegedly having a hand in the N$3.5 billion loss incurred by the Ministry of Finance between 2010 and 2016.
One of the accused, Jinrong Huang, fled the country and died in China, according to media reports. The other accused are Tao Huizhong, Zhu Honggang, Zhihua Gua, Hongying Jia, Shuhua Cao, Dadi Li and Ying Zhang. 

Currently, they are facing charges of tax evasion, fraud and money laundering involving N$3.5 billion.
Defence lawyers Eimo Nangolo, standing in for Sisa Namandje and Louis du Pisani for the Chinese defendants, and Barry Roux from South Africa for Laurentius, did not object to the lengthy postponement.

Nangolo asked that the warrants of arrest, issued for his absent clients, be held over until 12 April next year. 
According to him, Huizhong is currently in China, Huang in Angola and Cao also in China.
Du Pisani and Roux also asked that their clients bail be extended until the next court appearance.
According to police and forensic accounting evidence presented during the accused formal bail hearing, the ministry suffered losses of the substantial amount in question as a result of the under-declaration of the value of goods imported into Namibia and on which customs duties were supposed to be paid. 
The investigations revealed there was an outflow of foreign currency from Namibia instigated by the Bank of Namibia last year. 

During the investigation, it was discovered that N$3.5 billion was shipped out of the country through Laurentius’ business Xtreme Customs Clearing Services, amongst others. 
Investigators unearthed that imports were under-declared at customs and over-declared at the bank, resulting in losses of billions of dollars to Namibia.

The evidence indicated there was a huge difference in the amount presented at the bank for deposit and that presented at customs for clearance. 
The amount allegedly paid to foreign beneficiaries does not correlate to the amount on the invoices. 
The substantial amount is said to have been remitted to offshore accounts through a local bank.
All accused persons are currently on bail, ranging between N$500 000 and N$1.5 million, respectively. 

2020-12-08  Roland Routh

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