Namibia: 'Forex Traders' Charged Over More Than N$17m

TWO self-styled foreign exchange dealers who appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on four criminal charges yesterday are alleged to have received more than N$17 million from the public without being authorised to do so in terms of the Banking Institutions Act.

Michael Amushelelo (28) and Gregory Cloete (28) appeared in court before magistrate Ivan Gawanab on charges of carrying on banking business without authorisation, accepting money from the public for investment without being authorised to do so under the Banking Institutions Act, money laundering, and acquiring, possessing or using property forming part of the proceeds of unlawful activities. They were arrested on Thursday last week.

With a crowd of people - including leading figures of the Affirmative Repositioning movement - thronging the Windhoek Magistrate's Court, the courtroom in which Amushelelo and Cloete made their first appearance in the dock was filled to capacity, leaving most media reporters excluded from the hearing.

The two men's turn in the dock ended with each of them being granted bail in an amount of N$35 000, and their case being postponed to 14 April 2020.

Their release on bail is on condition that they should report at Windhoek Central Police Station each Monday, Wednesday and Friday; must hand their travelling documents to the police officer investigating their case; may not leave the Windhoek district without the authorisation of the investigating officer; and may not interfere with the state's witnesses in their case.

In the charges on which they appeared in court, the state is alleging that Amushelelo and Cloete unlawfully conducted a banking business, or accepted more than N$17 million from members of the public from February 2015 to June 2019, without being authorised to do so in terms of the Banking Institutions Act.

The state is also alleging that they unlawfully accepted money from the public with the prospect that the people giving them money would receive monetary or money-related rewards, again without them being authorised to do so in terms of the Banking Institutions Act.

They are further charged with money laundering for allegedly having been engaged in an arrangement, transaction or agreement which had the effect of concealing or disguising the unlawful origin, source or movement of property.

In the fourth charge, the prosecution is alleging that they contravened the Prevention of Organised Crime Act between February 2015 and June 2019 by unlawfully acquiring, possessing or using property forming part of the proceeds of unlawful activities. That property, the state is charging, consists of six cars - all of them with personalised number plates, including the word "Forex".

In postings on social media, Amushelelo has touted unusually high earnings of 50% in two months on money invested in foreign exchange trading - compared to investment earnings of below 10% in a year on money invested in a bank.

Amushelelo and Cloete have also been offering training seminars in foreign currency trading across Namibia.

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