WINDHOEK, 21 SEP – Two Angolan nationals who pleaded guilty to charges of defrauding the Ministry of Finance through the value added tax (VAT) refund scam between 2015 and 2016, were on Friday sentenced to pay fines.
Paulino Manuel Natal, 35, pleaded guilty to providing a forged invoice in order to claim VAT refunds from the ministry by falsely claiming that he had purchased from Namibia and exported to Angola equipment to the sum of N.dollars 797 525, which entitled him to a VAT refund of N.dollars 104 025.
Natal also admitted to committing a similar crime between September and October of 2015, claiming a refund of N.dollars 126 819 for buying goods to the tune of N.dollars 972 279, and caused the ministry a potential loss of N.dollars 230 844.
Natal was on Friday sentenced to pay a fine of N.dollars 50 000 or serve a prison term of 12 months on the first count.
On the second count, Natal was sentenced to four years imprisonment of which three years were suspended for a period of five years on condition that he is not convicted of any offence related to fraud during the period of suspension. He will thus serve a prison sentence of one year.
Natal has been in police custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility since arrest in 2015.
The second Angolan, Eugenio Gourgel, 36, pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud and admitted to having changed the dates of his invoice in order to claim VAT refunds of about N.dollars 27 500 from the finance ministry through the Aveshe Consultancy company in 2016.
Gourgel was sentenced to pay a fine of N.dollars 30 000 or serve a prison term of six months, which was wholly suspended for a period of five years on condition that he is not convicted of any fraud during the period of suspension.
The two Angolans were found guilty and sentenced upon their own pleas of guilty to the charges against them.
The two men, however, did not benefit a single cent from Aveshe which had processed their VAT returns, because they were arrested by the police when they arrived to collect their refunds.
High Court Judge Boas Usiku handed down the sentences on Friday morning.
Local defence lawyers Kamwi Kalundu and Bradley Basson represented the two accused.
State Advocate Carol-Ann Esterhuizen appeared for the prosecution.