The State has brought an application to amend the money laundering charge against two Namibians and 12 Angolan citizens accused of having ripped off government more than N$210 million in alleged forged tax refund claims.
Lawyer Henry Muhongo is asking the court – after he closed its case and surviving a section 174 application – to amend the charge from section 6 of the Money Laundering Act to section 4.
Section 6 makes provision for an accused to be charged for possessing the proceeds of criminal activity only, while section 4 makes provision for a charge of dealing in the proceeds of a criminal act.
According to Muhongo, the application is, in essence, to have the accused charged under that section because they used the alleged illegal proceeds to buy properties and other items in Namibia. All of the lawyers for the accused opposed the application and said it would mean further charges could be brought against their clients, which was not in the original indictment.
The lawyers are Winnie Christiaans, who is representing Mamsy Mweneni Nuuyoma (28), a Namibian citizen who worked at Aveshe Consultancy, the company managing VAT refunds on behalf of the finance ministry at the time the alleged fraud was committed.
She faces 626 counts, including defeating or attempting to defeat the course of justice in addition to the other charges. It is alleged she stole more than N$3.3 million in cahoot with Angolan national Lukau Nestor, who absconded after being granted bail.
Marvin Katuvesirauina is representing Benvindo Momafuba and Carlos Victor Eliseu; Trevor Brockerhoff is representing Pembele Zimutu (52), Isaac Cativa Cupessala (44), Paquete Americo Kapayole Jose, Miapa Aurelio Nelson (32) and 28-year-old Namibian Noah Boykie Naukosho in the ongoing matter.
The other accused are Joaquim Pedro Espanhol, represented by Vetu Uanivi; Joao Manuel dos Santos, represented by Kalundu Kamwi; Tatiana Luquena Muchado Gonga and Malakias Tomas Rufine, represented by Theo Carollus; Carlos Feleciano Tchinduku and Lucio Jose Cazembe, represented by Mekumbu Tjiteere.
All the accused, except Nuuyoma, Nestor, Momafuba, Zimutu, Gonga, Cupessala, Cazembe and Naukosho are in custody. All of the accused pleaded not guilty to 629 counts of fraud alternatively theft, money laundering and corruptly giving a document containing false information to an agent at the start of their trial last year.
The amount involved in the massive value-added tax fraud scam has jumped from the initial N$114 million to more than N$210 million, it emerged from the indictment document.
It is alleged the accused were involved in the use of forged tax invoices, VAT claim forms and customs documentation to claim VAT refunds from the finance ministry. Judge Kobus Miller, who is presiding over the matter, indicated he will give his ruling on the application tomorrow.