Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula has allocated the fraud trial of forex traders Michael Amushelelo and Gregory Cloete to himself after Windhoek High Court Judge Claudia Claasen withdrew from the matter because she is personally acquainted with some of the State witnesses.
Judge Angula made the announcement Thursday during the criminal mentions roll in the High Court.
The judge postponed the matter to 23 June to allow Amushelelo time to acquire the services of an advocate, saying the matter is complex and the charges he is facing are serious.
Amushelelo has asked for two months, but Judge Angula was not amenable to such a long postponement.
Amushelelo and Cloete face more than 330 counts of contravening the Banking Act and conducting a Ponzi scheme.
Also charged are legal entities Amushe Hello Investment, Amushe Advertising & Design, Amushe International Holding, Van Der Walt Trailer Manufacturing, Amushelelo Family Trust T187/2019 and Global Growth Investment Namibia – all represented by Amushelelo as founder and sole member.
The charges are 348 counts of fraud, alternatively theft by pretences, conducting banking business without authorisation and conducting a Ponzi scheme, tax evasion, tax fraud, failure to pay tax, money laundering and racketeering.
All in all, the accused face 365 counts.
According to the charge sheet, Amushelelo and Cloete worked in a partnership, collaboration and/or in collusion with one another in a fraudulent enterprise, formulated and operated as a Ponzi
It is further alleged that they advertised two types of investment facilities, which they offered through a non-registered company in the name of Global Growth Investment Namibia to members of the public through face-to-face seminars, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and various other social media network platforms under the guise that the invested funds would be traded on foreign currency platforms on behalf of investors.
It is further alleged the two accused aided each other in the execution and management of the “phoney” forex dealing business, which they conducted through the non-existent company Global Growth Investment Namibia (Pty) Ltd.
To further their plan, it is further alleged, they formulated and/or exploited the corporate personalities of Amushe Hello Investment, Amushe Advertising and Design, Amushe International Holding, Van Der Walt Trailer Manufacturing, Amushelelo Family Trust and Global Growth Investment Namibia.
They also facilitated the signing of investment agreements with members of the public, whereupon members would invest N$5 000 or more – and in return get a 50% interest after a period of two to four months.
Alternatively, members of the public could invest N$2 500 for eight months and receive N$12 654.25 at the end.
Court documents state the pair received N$17 million from members of the public with the intention to conduct banking services.
This, according to the prosecution, Amushelelo and his co-accused did without being authorised in terms of the Banking Institutions Act.
Furthermore, the prosecution is charging that the pair committed offences relating to money laundering.
Consequently, the authorities seized all properties and vehicles, and froze all bank accounts belonging to the accused.
The matter will be prosecuted by Constance Moyo.
Basson Lilungwe and Kadhila Amoomo appeared for the accused.