Namibia: Prosecutor General Admits Gipf's N$600m Lost

Prosecutor general Martha Imalwa declined to prosecute on 18 out of 20 dockets investigated in the N$600 million allegedly lost from the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF).

Imalwa announced this at a media briefing in Windhoek yesterday, where she denied suggestions that she is protecting politicians and their cronies.

According to her, the government failed to trace the N$600 million because of lost documents, forgetful officials and lack of evidence.

The pension fund had granted loans worth N$660 million from 1994 to 2002, with the hope of making a return of N$950 million, including interest, to Namibian politically connected start-up businesses. The pension fund only managed to get N$380 million back. The rest was written off.

The police opened a case in 2009, and handed it over to Imalwa for a decision on whether to drag alleged culprits to court.

Imalwa announced yesterday that the investigation into this case focused on 20 dockets, with 195 arch files.

"These entities were beneficiaries of a loan scheme by the GIPF for purposes of stimulating the growth of their businesses. The case was opened in 2009," she confirmed.

The prosecutor general (PG) said she only started making final decisions in 2014.

"Up to today, my office has declined to prosecute on 18 [out of 20] of the dockets for reasons varying from there being no criminal offence that was committed on one hand, to there being insufficient evidence," she stated.

Imalwa said only one person is so far set to appear at the Oshakati Regional Court in October on fraud charges relating to hiding the assets of a company which benefited from the GIPF money.

She added that her office is yet to make a decision on another case.

"The last docket is still under consideration by my office, and a decision will be made in due course. It should be noted that this remaining docket is bulky, and it involves complex legal issues which require to be tackled with due care and diligence," she said.

She noted that the case was prosecutor-guided.

"This entailed the movement of the dockets between my office and the investigating officers. My office was not in a position to make a final decision in any of the dockets before the finalisation of investigations," she continued.

Documents still got lost, she said.

"Due to the period of time lapsed from the time the loans were applied for and granted, and subsequent investigations, most documents' evidence could not be located.

The task of the investigators was made difficult because of the changes of staff personnel at the GIPF, she added.

"Those who were involved with the application and approval of loans, especially the trustees, have indicated that they have no recollection of what transpired in the absence of documents," Imalwa said.

Some of the "relevant people" who could have explained the N$600 million transactions also died.

"In most circumstances, most decisions not to prosecute were based on the fact that there was insufficient evidence on which a prosecution could be initiated at all in the first place," she continued.

The N$600 million from the GIPF was paid through the failed Development Capital Portfolio (DCP).

The persons who apparently benefited are senior retired politicians, prominent business people, senior legal advisers and Cabinet ministers.

The DCP gave more than N$600 million to business projects, most of which are believed to have failed because of reckless spending and trading by the companies' owners.

Some former GIPF trustees were named as feeding from the trough of the DCP scheme, while the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority was accused of failing to protect pensioners' funds.

It was long suspected that this case will be be swept under the carpet.

In fact, The Namibian reported as early as 2013 that the case will not go far.

Nudo secretary general Joseph Kauandenge issued a statement yesterday, attacking the prosecutor general.

Kauandenge said Imalwa's briefing was proof, as "she has demonstrated numerous times, that she is not fit to hold office".

"It is disheartening to note that millions of our money went into thin air, and yet the prosecutor general has the audacity to state without shame that those who stole with impunity cannot be prosecuted because of lack of evidence?", Kauandenge asked.

WHY ME OLIVIA?

An agitated Imalwa went on a rant about being attacked in the public for unsubstantiated allegations.

She rejected claims that she is covering up for politicians implicated in corruption, and suspects that there is a plot to attack her integrity.

"I need somebody to tell me: why Olivia Martha Imalwa? Am I not performing? If I am not performing, where am I not performing?" she asked.

She added: "Is it because I am a woman? Is it because I came from an unknown family, or is it because of what? I am from a subsistence farmer, my father; my mother is a housewife".

If she was incompetent or underperforming, Imalwa said people should have questioned her on why "you did not do A, B, C and D, apart from the unfounded allegations against me".

She said she works with professionals who assist her with decisions.

"I make decisions based on the available evidence gathered by investigating officers, as well as our applicable law relating to the offence in question. It is not a solitary and unilateral decision of an individual," she added.

Imalwa stated that even if she had declined to prosecute cases based on a lack of evidence, such cases can still be revived if members of the public or witnesses "bring up such evidence".

"When taking decisions on dockets, we do not take into consideration what appears in the print or social media, but what is contained in what is called a docket," she explained.

Imalwa yesterday noted that past cases have shown that high-ranking government officials and politicians were not immune to prosecution.

She said the fact that a former deputy minister was prosecuted in the case involving the money stolen from the Social Security Commission shows that she was not covering up for politicians.

She thus challenged those who have information about high-ranking officials and politicians involved in cases of corruption to "provide such information to the police during the time of investigation".

The PG also stated that she has not yet dealt with the case involving the disappearance of over N$200 million from the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Bank, because it was still under investigation.

Another case which has been popping up, Imalwa said, was the one involving the disappearance of about N$100 million from the now defunct Offshore Development Company (ODC).

She said this case has been closed, and those who were involved have been prosecuted. She, however, suggested that there were no politicians or well-connected individuals involved in the ODC case.

"It seems some of the people in this country are insistent on perpetuating their fictitious imaginations, as if it were based on fact, and unfortunately in the process, they tarnish other people's images, maybe without realising it," Imalwa stated.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: Namibian

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.