2 February 2018

Namibia: Bank Fraud Leads to Six Years in Jail

A FORMER employee of Standard Bank Namibia who admitted that he defrauded the bank of N$1,6 million over a period of almost three years has been sentenced to an effective prison term of six years.

Although erstwhile bank employee Mark Wayne van Wyk (29) showed genuine remorse by accepting full responsibility for the crimes he committed, the court did not lose sight of the seriousness of the offences and the substantial amount involved, judge Naomi Shivute told Van Wyk during his sentencing in the Windhoek High Court on Wednesday.

She reminded him that he defrauded Standard Bank Namibia while employed in a position of trust and while he was responsible for supervising other employees to ensure they performed their functions with diligence and honesty.

"Yet he had the audacity to tell the court in its face that he was tempted to steal from his employer because of laxity in the security system at his workplace," judge Shivute said. "This lame excuse is unacceptable and is adding insult to the reputational damage and financial harm [Van Wyk] caused to his ex-employer. It deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms."

Judge Shivute sentenced Van Wyk to eight years' imprisonment, of which two years were suspended for a period of five years on condition that he is not convicted of fraud during that period. Van Wyk was sentenced two weeks after he admitted guilt on 288 counts of fraud. He admitted that from 19 January 2013 to the end of August 2015 he defrauded Standard Bank Namibia by having money paid from an internal account of the bank into his own accounts and those of friends, relatives or acquaintances who were not entitled to receive such payments.

After the money had been paid into the accounts, he got the account holders to withdraw the money and hand it to him, or used the account holders' debit cards to make withdrawals or purchases, Van Wyk explained in a statement handed to judge Shivute. The bank lost N$1,6 million as a result of his fraudulent activities, Van Wyk admitted.

He also told the judge that he used the stolen money to pay for the medical treatment his mother had to receive for cancer, to support his family financially, and to entertain friends.

According to Van Wyk, he was tempted to defraud the bank after he noticed there was no oversight on the account from which he proceeded to steal money. Van Wyk was employed by Standard Bank Namibia from November 2009 until his fraudulent activities were discovered in August 2015. Jan Wessels represented Van Wyk during his trial. State advocate Salomon Kanyemba represented the prosecution.

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