WINDHOEK - Charles Winston Manale, 36, was sentenced to an effective jail term of 15 years yesterday morning by Windhoek High Court Judge Dinnah Usiku, on convictions of fraud and money laundering.
Usiku convicted Manale on 147 counts of fraud and one count of money laundering in February this year.
He was sentenced to 17 years with two years suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted of the crime of fraud or any offence where dishonesty is an element during the time of suspension on the fraud conviction and to five years on the conviction of money laundering.
The sentence on the money laundering conviction was ordered to run concurrent with the sentence on the fraud conviction.
He pleaded guilty to the fraud charges, but not guilty on the money laundering charge and Judge Usiku convicted him on that charge after the State led evidence.
The charges emanated from the time Manale was employed by Standard Bank Namibia as a senior estate and trust officer in the department Standard Executors and Trustees and was responsible for, amongst others, the supervision of the estate and trust officers whose duties are to receive requests for payments from beneficiaries and after verification, to load such requests of the system for approval and authorisation of payment.
He misappropriated more than N$5 million. Judge Usiku said that while fraud is always a grave and ugly offence, it is worse when it is fanned by human cupidity.
What is particularly heinous in this case, the judge said, is that the fraud was deliberately planned and it was deliberately perpetrated 147 times over a period of 17 months.
She said there was a protracted and contemptuous indifference to integrity designed to frustrate the detection of repetitive and gainful crimes.
She further said that the seriousness of the offences is considerably aggravated by the fact that Manale was in position of trust and entrusted with supervisory responsibilities over estate officers in the Deceased Estates Department of the bank.
“Indeed in this case the offences were premeditated and the facts show how the accused deliberately worked out intricate methods to defraud the various deceased persons who became victims of his deceits,” the judge stated and continued:
“The frauds were committed over and over. Accused did not stop but persisted with his fraudulent activities, often committing further frauds in an attempt to cover up his criminal behavior.”
She went on to say that it has become common practice in the courts that where an employee breached the trust that placed on him or her, the court’s duty is to punish that person upon conviction and it is desirable that a custodial sentence be imposed.
Judge Usiku further said that fraud hinders development and puts off prospective investors in our economy and warned that employees and the community at large as well as prospective offender must know that it is not worth their while to commit serious offences like the one in this case.
State Advocate Constance Moyo prosecuted and Manale was represented by Jan Wessels on instructions of Legal Aid.