WINDHOEK - The two Angolan men that admitted they committed fraud and offences under the Anti-Corruption Act in a scam involving N$210.6 million and 15 suspects were sentenced to fines, suspended jail terms and direct jail terms on Friday by Acting High Court Judge Boas Usiku.
Eugenio Gourgel, who pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud for submitting an outdated claim for a tax refund, was sentenced to pay a fine of N$30 000 or in default serve six months in jail, in addition to a two-year jail term wholly suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted on a charge of fraud during the period of suspension.
Gourgel admitted that he committed fraud by submitting an invoice with an incorrect date to the company Aveshe Consultancy in September 2015 in a bid to claim a value-added tax refund of N$27 524,74 from the Ministry of Finance. His claim was however not paid out as he was arrested when he went to enquire on the progress of the claim.
Judge Usiku said in the case of Gourgel that a direct custodial sentence is unnecessary as he purchased the goods legally and merely tried to scam the system.
He however said the offence of fraud is serious and becoming prevalent in Namibia, costing the country millions of dollars annually. But, the judge said, the fact that Gourgel cooperated with the police from the onset and entered a guilty plea, the court is inclined to show him mercy. However, the judge said, the offences deserve deterrent sentences.
With regards to Paulino Natal, who pleaded guilty to two counts under the Anti-Corruption Act, Acting Judge Usiku said it is deserving of a direct custodial sentence as the offence was more serious and not the result of legally purchased goods.
Natal admitted that he corruptly gave documents containing false statements to Aveshe Consultancy in September and October 2015 in an attempt to claim two VAT refunds, totaling N$230 844, from the Ministry of Finance.
His two claims were also not paid out before his arrest. He was sentenced to pay a fine of N$50 000 or spend 12 months in jail in addition to a direct jail term of four years of which two years were suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted on a charge of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act.
The convictions and sentences are the result of a massive tax fraud scam totaling N$210.6 million in which Angolans used forged tax invoices, VAT claim forms and customs documents to fraudulently claim VAT refunds from the Ministry of Finance from May 2014 to December 2015 through Aveshe Consultancy. The total amount paid out to the 15 Angolans alleged to have fraudulently claimed VAT refunds is about N$34.8 million.
The other accused include Mamsy Mweneni Nuuyoma, 27, a Namibian citizen who worked at Aveshe Consultancy, the company managing VAT refunds on behalf of the ministry at the time the frauds were committed, who is facing 192 counts including defeating or attempting to defeat the course of justice in addition to the other charges.