20 March 2019

Namibia: Witness Fingers Colleague in N$210 Million Scam

The first State witness to take the stand in the multi-million value added tax (VAT) refund scam currently underway in the Windhoek High Court identified Mamsy Mweneni Nuuyoma, 28, as the person who mainly dealt with claims submitted by Angolans. Uasepsa Mukuambi, a tax consultant at Aveshe Consultancy, the company managing VAT refunds on behalf of the Ministry of Finance at the time, testified this before Acting Judge Kobus Miller and his two assessors John Mandy and Yolande Böttger yesterday.

Mukuambi told the court that even though she and other colleagues also worked with claims submitted by Angolans, it was Nuuyoma who worked almost exclusively with their claims.

This came out in her testimony when State Advocate Henry Muhongo took her through the various charges in the indictment.

In almost all of the instances, the witness answered 'accused 1 issued it', referring to the issuance of the payment instructions by Nuuyoma. She further told the court that payments were made almost exclusively through cheques, but sometimes they would use electronic transfers.

With regard to the procedures for submitting claims, the witness said that clients must bring an original invoice, a VAT 16 form, and a copy of their passport. They must also provide a SAD 500 form, which they must get from Customs.

The invoice must bear the words 'tax invoice' and contain the supplier's information, the date of purchase, invoice number, description of goods purchased, a customs stamp, the VAT inclusive amount, the VAT amount, the VAT exclusive amount, the client's name and the supplier's VAT registration number.

They would then capture all the information on the system and print a VAT 24 form, which they would then send to the Ministry of Finance that would vet and verify the documents and confirm payment to the clients.

Mukuambi further said that the ministry would then forward the money owed and they - Aveshe Consultancy - would effect the payments of the VAT refunds.

She claimed she never suspected the documents she processed were falsified and not legitimate.

During the past two days, Mukuambi was taken through each and every claim that was processed in relation to the Angolan accused and in 95 percent of the time she said that it was Nuuyoma who processed the claims.

They accused are facing 629 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, money laundering and contravening the ACC Act.

According to the summary of substantial facts in the indictment, accused 2 to 13 in consent with Nuuyoma submitted fraudulent claims for VAT refunds to Aveshe and the Ministry of Finance.

The documents used to claim these fraudulent VAT refunds were VAT refunds to foreign tourists claim forms, forged invoices from different suppliers in Namibia, forged or falsified SAD 500 forms and/or VAT control sheets, amongst others.

The accused were all arrested after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) set up a sting operation together with the part owner of Aveshe, Klaudia Nahotohi Tshithigona, also known as Mrs Kay.

According to the indictment, while the ACC was busy interviewing Mrs Kay, she received a phone call from Joao Manuel dos Santos, accused 5, to see her in private about his claims that were rejected.

Dos Santos is the person with the most claims - N$172 million in all. The ACC, in conjunction with Mrs Kay, then agreed to meet with Dos Santos where he offered her 10 percent if his rejected claims were paid.

The ACC, through Aveshe, then arranged for all Angolan nationals with outstanding claims to collect their refunds upon which they were arrested.

The amount involved in the scam has almost doubled from the initial N$114 million to more than N$210 million, it emerged from the indictment document.

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