The trial of Cameroonian-born businessman Antoine Mbok and his co-accused Daniel David Nghiwilepo was postponed again this week by Windhoek High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo.
This time, the postponement is due to the unavailability of Silas Kishi-Shikumu who has taken over the defence of Mbok until at least 5 May next year.
The judge postponed the matter to next year for a status hearing. Mbok (40) and Nghiwilepo (42) pleaded not guilty to 10 charges of corruption and money laundering in the Windhoek High Court when their trial started in 2015.
Since then, the trial has been plagued by delays due to Mbok changing lawyers and a trial within a trial to suppress recordings made by registry clerk at the Ministry of Finance, 39-year-old Veronika Kituna Thomas.
Thomas already pleaded guilty to five counts of corruptly using her office at the Ministry of Finance and her position for self-gratification at the start of the trial before High Court Judge Alfred Siboleka on 10 February 2012 and sentenced to an effective eight years imprisonment.
After Thomas’ guilty plea, her trial was separated from that of Mbok, his company MFinance and Nghiwilepo.
Mbok, MFinance and Nghiwilepo face charges of fraud and corruption involving N$3.9 million.
MFinance (Pty) Limited is a duly registered corporate body, registered in accordance with Namibian laws with Mbok as its sole director.
Mbok is the first and second accused in his capacity as the director of MFinance and Nghiwilepo the third accused. A summary of substantial facts contained in the charge sheet has it that the two men in cahoots with Thomas, allegedly defrauded several Namibian businesses and government agencies of up to N$3.9 million in value-added tax (VAT) and returns for import VAT.
The State alleges that between 25 January 2010 and 18 February 2010, five cheques destined for the account of the Ministry of Finance were intercepted and deposited into Mbok’s company account.
The affected companies and entities in the alleged fraud comprise GS Fainsinger and Associates in the amount of N$121 212.42 for VAT, the health ministry and Global Fund in the amount of N$228 494.61 for employees tax.
Another cheque for employees tax for the amount of N$62 905.13 allegedly made it into the coffers of MFinance, this time from Edu-Loan (now Letshego Financial Services Namibia) instead of the finance ministry.
Then Kalahari Sands Hotel and Casino was allegedly the fourth victim when a cheque for the amount of N$202 530.08 for employees tax was paid into the account of MFinance. Another alleged victim of the alleged fraud was Afrisam Cement – That was also allegedly defrauded a massive N$71 million by Esmerelda Madjiedt - for the amount of N$3 329 489.40 meant as payment for VAT.