21 February 2019

Namibia: Bank Fraudster Back in Jail After Court No-Show

A former bank employee who failed to appear in the Windhoek High Court for the scheduled delivery of a judgement in his trial on charges of fraud and money laundering last week is back in police custody, after being rearrested on Monday.

Charles Manale left his home in Windhoek on Tuesday last week to go to the High Court at the Windhoek Correctional Facility, where a judgement in his trial was due to be delivered, but ended up wandering the streets of the city, not knowing what to do and fearful of what the future held for him, defence lawyer Jan Wessels told judge Dinnah Usiku with Manale's return to court yesterday.

Wessels added that Manale contacted the police officer working on his case on Monday, and he was arrested after that.

Not satisfied with the explanation for Manale's absence, judge Usiku revoked the warning on which he had been free while awaiting the end of his trial, and directed that he should now be kept in custody. She also imposed a fine of N$2 000 or a jail term of six months on him for his failure to appear in court.

Manale (35) was convicted on 147 counts of fraud involving a total amount of N$5,05 million after he admitted guilt on those charges five months ago.

He admitted that he defrauded Standard Bank Namibia, where he was employed as a senior estate and trust officer, from January 2011 to December 2015 by submitting false payment requests to the bank, and authorising the ensuing payments that were then made.

The payments that were made were first directed into a bank account of an acquaintance of his, and later were made directly into his own bank account, Manale also informed the court in a plea explanation. He admitted that he stole a total amount of about N$5,05 million from the bank through the fraud that he committed.

Manale denied guilt on a charge of money laundering when his trial began in September last year. Yesterday, however, judge Usiku found him guilty on that charge as well, after noting that Manale made use of money that he knew was the proceeds of crime and that had been channelled through bank accounts to disguise the criminal origin of the funds.

Manale has to return to court for a pre-sentence hearing on 28 February.

State advocate Constance Moyo is prosecuting.

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