Namibia: Mixed Results in Court for DRC General

An army general from the Democratic Republic of Congo had mixed fortunes in Namibian courts over the past six days, with the Supreme Court finding last week that he and a business partner had been involved in money laundering, and a High Court judge ruling yesterday that a Swakopmund real estate agent has to pay back more than N$12 million to him.

In a judgement delivered in the Windhoek High Court, judge Thomas Masuku yesterday ordered Swakopmund resident Erwin Sprangers to pay the equivalent of US$850 000 (about N$12,58 million) to general François Olenga, while he also has to pay Olenga's legal costs in the case in which the general was suing Sprangers.

Judge Masuku's judgement follows less than a week after the Supreme Court, in a judgement written by chief justice Peter Shivute, found there was evidence that Olenga and a Namibian business partner, Moses Kamunguma, committed money laundering with the transfer of N$2,78 million from a Chinese bank to a local bank account of Kamunguma in June 2014.

The court further found there was also evidence showing that Kamunguma committed fraud by giving false explanations to First National Bank about the money paid into his account.

In the case heard by judge Masuku, Olenga sued Sprangers for US$850 000, based on claims that he had paid US$900 000 into a bank account of Sprangers' estate agency in 2010, that this money was meant to be used for a property development at Swakopmund, and that when he later wanted Sprangers to return the money to him, he received only US$50 000 back.

Except for having been sued by Olenga, Sprangers has also been criminally charged. He and his wife, Heidi Sprangers, are charged with a count of fraud and five counts of theft by conversion in a case that is pending in the Windhoek High Court.

Four years after he transferred the money to a bank account of the Sprangers couple's estate agency, Olenga also played a central role in the transfer of 192 518 euro (then about N$2,78 million) into an FNB account of Kamunguma.

That payment was investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission in 2015, and in February 2016 prompted the prosecutor general to obtain a property preservation order over N$2 million in an investment account of Kamunguma, managing director of August 26 Industries, and two cars registered in his name.

Prosecutor general Martha Imalwa alleged at the time that Kamunguma and Olenga had given various explanations for the origin and purpose of the payment of the money, and said it could be concluded that the money had been the proceeds of crime, being tax evasion, money laundering, fraud and theft.

In October 2017, though, an application by Imalwa to have the money in Kamunguma's investment account and two cars he had bought with part of the N$2,78 million forfeited to the state, was dismissed in the High Court.

The PG's appeal against that decision was upheld by chief justice Shivute, with appeal judge Elton Hoff and acting judge of appeal Theo Frank agreeing with him, in the Supreme Court last week.

The chief justice found that the High Court judge who dismissed the application for a forfeiture order should not have ruled that affidavits filed in support of the earlier preservation application did not form part of the evidence on which Imalwa wanted to rely to obtain a forfeiture order.

Chief justice Shivute also found that the evidence on which the PG relied showed on a balance of probabilities that Kamunguma has made misrepresentations to FNB in an attempt to explain the payment into his account - which amounted to fraud - and also that the conduct of Kamunguma and Olenga had the effect of concealing or disguising the source of the money and constituted money laundering.

The chief justice noted that various explanations about the money was given to FNB - including that it was funds meant for "construction"; that it was a "commission"; that it was money that Olenga was lending to a close corporation in which he and Kamunguma are equal partners; and that it was money that a Chinese citizen owed to the general.

Upholding the PG's appeal, the Supreme Court ordered that the money in Kamunguma's investment account and the two cars that he bought should be forfeited to the state.

The PG was represented by state advocates Mariëtte Boonzaier and Loide Angula when arguments on the appeal were heard in March. Kamunguma and his and Olenga's close corporation, McKuma and Lenga Trading CC, were represented by Sisa Namandje.

*This article has been updated.

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