High Court Judge Thomas Masuku has condoned the late filing of 57 people who claim to have invested their money with self-proclaimed foreign exchange trader Michael Amushelelo.
The 57 members of the public will now form part of the ongoing proceedings in which the prosecutor general is seeking a preservation order for various assets, bank accounts and properties belonging to Amushelelo and a vehicle belonging to Taimi Amushelelo.
Ndamononghenda Wangolo who forms part of the group and has deposed an affidavit, says she is entitled to be a part of the proceedings as she and fellow ‘investors’ stand to lose more if the final preservation order is granted by the court.
“I respectfully submit that the money belongs to the victims of Mr Amushelelo’s crimes and not to Mr Amushelelo. It is the victims of the crimes perpetrated by Mr Amushelelo whom the first respondent (prosecutor general) seeks to punish with this present POCA forfeiture application. This is simply not justice, it punishes the victims of the crime,” said Wangolo.
She added the funds that the prosecution seeks a forfeiture order against, lawfully belongs to her and fellow ‘investors’ from who Amushelelo acquired the funds illegally under the pretext of investing the money on the forex trading markets.
Wangolo said she has invested N$370 000 with Amushelelo through one of his companies, Global Growth Investment Namibia (PTY) with a promise that the funds will be invested and would generate interest at a rate of 50% via forex trading. The investment payout would be made in two months. She said she invested, as she believed Amushelelo’s false representation of himself and business.
Wangolo said at the time, she was under the impression that Amushelelo was operating a legitimate forex trading business and at no point did she think her actions were unlawful until Amushelelo’s arrest.
“To my utter shock and disgust, it has now been shown by the first respondent (prosecutor general) that Mr Amushelelo used this money to make payouts to earlier investors and for his own personal use,” said Wangolo.
In her view, the prosecution’s current application seeks to punish her and other investors for the crimes that Amushelelo committed. She said she and fellow ‘investors’ are victims and not accomplices to Amushelelo.
In the preservation application, the prosecution is stating that there are reasonable grounds that the properties are proceeds of unlawful activities such as fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and racketeering.
The prosecution has since charged Amushelelo and co-accused Gregory Cloete, four close corporations, a company and a trust controlled by Amushelelo.
Amushelelo is facing 365 counts, while Cloete is charged with 360 of the counts. These charges range from fraud, alternatively theft by false pretences, conducting banking business without authorisation and conducting a Ponzi scheme, tax evasion, tax fraud, failure to pay tax, money laundering and racketeering.
The State is alleging that starting from September 2018 until October 2019, Amushelelo and Cloete ran an investment scam in which they promised people high returns on money invested with them.
Investors allegedly paid a total amount of about N$14,7 million to them in 348 individual transactions.
Their criminal case in the High Court has been postponed to 18 November for the duo to answer the State’s pre-trial memorandum, which requires them to indicate what will be disputed and what they admit.