N$3.5 billion bail hearing postponed to next week
The two Chinese nationals and their Namibian co-accused implicated in the massive case of fraud and money laundering to the value of N$3.5 billion will have to remain in custody until next Tuesday.
The bail hearing, which has thus far taken five days in court, will proceed on January 17 and only then will the accused know if they will be granted bail or not by the court.
The postponement comes as a result of the absence of magistrate Alweendo Venatius who will only be available to attend to the matter on the mentioned day. The news was not well received by the fully packed courtroom of friends, family members and curious members of the public as mumblings could be heard.
The state presented its case with charges of fraud, money laundering and tax evasion against two Chinese nationals Tao Huizhong and Jinrong Huang, and Namibian national Julius Laurentius.
With only four people arrested so far, 29 Namibian and Chinese business people operating mostly in the northern part of the country are yet to be traced and brought to book. Over 100 importers are said to be implicated in the case.
According to the police and forensic accounting investigations, the Ministry of Finance allegedly suffered a potential loss of N$3.5 billion between the start of 2010 and December 19 last year.
According to evidence presented during the bail hearing, the ministry suffered losses as a result of the under-declaration of the value of goods imported into Namibia and on which customs duties were supposed to be paid.
Furthermore, it was discovered that there was a huge difference in the amounts presented at banks for deposit and those presented at customs for clearance. The suspects allegedly represented the same invoices repeatedly at banks and at customs for clearance with a huge difference in the amounts presented at banks.
It was discovered that the amounts in question have been remitted to offshore accounts through Nedbank to foreign beneficiaries.
The two defence lawyers Sisa Namandje and Louis Botes, on instruction from Dirk Conradie, are strongly pushing for their clients to be released on bail. However, the state represented by Rowan van Wyk strongly opposes these sentiments with fears that the accused will abscond and tamper with investigations and interfere with state witnesses.
The case has caught the interest of the public with many questioning where the money is.