New Era (Windhoek)

18 February 2013

Namibia: Alleged Swindler Appeals for Bail

Windhoek — An alleged Internet swindler wants the Windhoek Magistrate's Court to release him on bail. Julius Paulus, who is represented by Orben Sibeya, is accused of defrauding people through an Internet scam for an amount exceeding N$900 000.

The bail hearing was heard on Thursday last week before Magistrate Ingrid Unengu. The state alleges that Paulus who operated an Internet website through which he sold woodcarvings allegedly defrauded hundreds of people by offering carvings without delivering any.

At his first appearance on January 25, Paulus was denied bail on the grounds that he might interfere with a police investigation and also because he gave the investigating officer a false residential address and concealed a vehicle. "I have no reason to interfere as I know that I did not commit any offence," Paulus said.

Paulus, who was also found in possession of cannabis after his arrest already pleaded guilty to that charge and was fined N$800 or three months imprisonment. He paid the fine.

During the bail hearing, Paulus repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claimed that he is a businessman who makes an honest living selling woodcarvings through the Internet. He was adamant that he gave the police his full cooperation during his arrest and their subsequent interrogation.

On the state's allegation that he tried to conceal the vehicle he said "how is that possible as I am the one who took them to my vehicle." He further said that he is a Namibian citizen and therefore has nowhere to go.

He also indicated to Magistrate Ingrid Unengu that he will plead not guilty to the charges against him. He said the state's submission that there is a propensity that he will commit further offences is devoid of any truth.

According to Paulus, he suffers from a skin condition that causes rashes if he eats certain food to which he is allergic. Sibeya introduced several medical reports to that effect. Paulus also said the unhygienic conditions of the holding cells caused his skin irritations to start and worsen.

On the contention of the state that it has a strong case against him, Paulus contended that it could not be the case since he is an honest businessman.

Taedago Gaweseb for the State told Paulus that the state is possession of more than 500 transactions that went through his internet address with various clients claiming that money has been stolen from their accounts after they furnished their particulars on his website.

Paulus vehemently denied this and said that it is not logical. According to him he works through an agency that collects the money clients pay to him and pays it over into his account. The state further alleges huge amounts of money were either transferred into the bank account of Paulus or withdrawn.

It cited two transactions, one of N$29 348.05 that was paid into the account of Paulus on November 28, 2012 and one of N$254 726 that was paid in on December 01, 2012. Gaweseb wanted to know from Paulus what woodcarvings cost that amount of money. He also told the accused that most of his transactions were linked to the United States of America and that all of them were fraudulent.

Magistrate Unengu adjourned the matter to Friday last week, but it was further postponed to today.

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