WINDHOEK, 08 MAY – Judgement in the trial of seven persons arrested in April 2008 in connection with the N.dollars 30 million Avid Investment and Social Security Commission (SSC) fraud scandal, will be ready on Friday.
High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg will hand down the verdict after having listened to the closing arguments by the defence lawyers and prosecution here on Monday and Tuesday.
The seven are Windhoek businessman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Namangol Asset Management Company, Nico Josea; former Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communication and Swapo-party politician, Paulus Kapia; Avid Investment Administrative Secretary, Inez //Gases; former Acting Secretary-General of the National Youth Council, Ralph Blaauw; his wife, Sharon Blaauw; Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation official and lawyer, Otniel Podewiltz; and retired Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Brigadier, Mathias Shiweda.
In his closing arguments before court on Monday, Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondedze said all seven implicated in the alleged embezzlement of the N.dollars 30 million should be found guilty as charged by the State, because of the manner in which they had handled the missing money.
Meanwhile, the defence lawyers on Tuesday asked the court for the acquittal of their clients. They argued that the whole business affairs of the little-known and Swapo-linked Avid Investment Asset Management company, and the transfer of the money from the SSC to Avid was run behind the scene, solely by the late Lazarus Kandara, without the knowledge and involvement of the seven accused.
Kandara was the former CEO of Avid Investment at the time of the alleged scandal. He allegedly committed suicide while being escorted by the police in front of the Windhoek Police Station during the inquiry.
The seven, all former directors of Avid Investment, are each separately charged with fraud, alternatively theft, corruption and giving false evidence in an inquiry in terms of the Companies’ Act No 28 of 2004.
Defence lawyer Sisa Namandje is appearing for Kapia, while Attorney Jan Wessels is appearing for Shiweda. Slysken Makando is defending Josea and Petrie Theron is representing //Gases. Kasper Gilroy stands for the two Blaauws as well as Podewiltz.
Avid Investment made headlines in 2005, when it acquired N.dollars 30 million from the SSC under alleged dubious circumstances. The money was then invested in an offshore company, but it could later not be accounted for. The disappearance of the money led to a High Court inquiry before Acting Judge Raymond Heathcote in 2005.
Marondedze is being assisted by State advocates Cliff Lutibezi and Salomon Kanyemba.
All accused are free on bail of N.dollars 10 000 each, and their bail was on Tuesday extended until Friday for the handing down of the judgement.