12 July 2018

Namibia: ACC Wants Bipa Officials Charged

The Anti-Corruption Commission wants the Business and Intellectual Property Authority's officials involved in an N$18 million property deal charged.

The Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA), a national agency that registers and manages company names, bought the N$4,6 million Windhoek property which was once a bar for N$18 million.

BIPA chief executive Tileinge Andima, trade permanent secretary Gabriel Sinimbo and ODC acting chief executive Phillip Namundjebo, were involved in the deal.

The ACC started an investigation last year, and had since handed over the findings with recommendations to prosecute those involved.

Erna van der Merwe, the ACC's deputy director, told The Namibian this week that they forwarded their recommendations to the prosecutor general's office on 4 July 2018.

Prosecutor general Martha Imalwa said she was not at the office last week, but that they did not receive anything. She, however, said they would start looking into the case once they receive the documents.

Although Van der Merwe could not say what the exact charges or recommendations are, a person briefed about the matter said the ACC recommended that the officials involved should be prosecuted.

"The ACC does not send dockets to the prosecutor general if they don't have such a recommendation," the official in the justice ministry said yesterday.

The BIPA board suspended Andima on full pay in March this year to allow for an independent investigation into the purchase of the property.

Andima, who has maintained his innocence in the past, refused to comment on the matter yesterday.

The High Court also froze the bank account to which BIPA wanted to transfer the N$18 million.

Finance minister Calle Schlettwein told the Windhoek Observer last year that he had instructed the trade ministry to reverse the deal, and was pleased that the court had ruled on the matter.

"However, what is still outstanding is how to bring to book all those implicated. This will be the next step of this investigation," Schlettwein told the weekly newspaper at the time.

It is alleged that the deal on the building purchase was done without any board or ministerial approval, which resulted in the suspension of Andima.

The bar was allegedly owned by Windhoek couple Hilma and Martin Shilengudwa, whom Andima admitted to knowing, but denied gaining any undue benefits from their relationship.

The waste of public funds in purchasing an old building by Bipa comes when the bosses are complaining that they do not have money to digitalise the registration and presentation of company records.

The Namibian reported last year that getting company registration documents from the trade ministry continues to take too long, sometimes up to two weeks, despite a promise by President Hage Geingob that the process would be improved.

* Additional reporting Shinovene Immanuel

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