Southern Africa: Breakthroughs Confirmed in High-Profile Graft Cases


A number of prominent African business leaders and politicians are facing serious criminal charges and African law enforcement authorities are working with agencies around the world to ensure that they are brought to book.

Legalbrief reports that while the wheels of justice appear to turn slowly, there have been significant developments over the past week.

Namibia has initiated extradition proceedings in an effort to have three Icelandic citizens brought before a Windhoek court to be prosecuted in connection with alleged corruption in the fishing sector.

This was conveyed by Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondedze when the local suspects charged in with the alleged corrupt use of fishing quotas allocated by the government made their first pre-trial appearance in the Windhoek High Court on Friday.

The Namibian reports that Marondedze told Justice Christie Liebenberg that the state is calling for the appearance of Adalsteinn Helgason, Egill Helgi Árnason and Ingvar Júlíusson. He served notice that the state would apply for the two cases before the court to be joined when the accused make their second pre-trial appearance on 20 May.

The judge refused to grant the order and directed that a full disclosure of the two case dockets should be made to the defence by 6 May. Legalbrief reports that several suspects have been charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering in connection with the fishing quotas corruption scandal. They are accused of having been involved in a scheme in which Icelandic companies paid them at least N$103m to get access to Namibian fishing quotas between 2014 and 2019. Full report in The Namibian

A year after Angolan authorities cracked down on her multibillion-dollar business empire, Africa's once-richest woman is watching it crumble.

From self-imposed exile in Dubai, Isabel dos Santos has been fighting a legal battle against Angola's Government as court orders roil her companies. In Luanda, shelves at her Candando supermarket stores are more than half-empty. Her beer factory south of the capital is running at 30% of its production capacity. A report on the Fin24 site notes that Angolan prosecutors accuse her of causing more than $5bn of losses to the nation's economy.

' The amount of value destruction happening now is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. These companies are heavily impacted by these freezing orders as well as the terrible Angolan economy,' she said.

The Luanda Leaks report, published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), presents what it says is evidence that Dos Santos allegedly made her fortune through questionable deals with the Angolan state.

Dos Santos denies any wrongdoing and said a team of investigators that she hired found the documents cited by the ICIJ were fake. Isabel's half-brother, Jose Filomeno dos Santos, was sentenced to five years in prison in August after being found guilty of embezzlement and fraud – a ruling he's appealing. Her husband Sindika Dokolo was under investigation in Angola for his business practices before he died in October. Full report on the Fin24 site

Former South African President Jacob Zuma's lawyers may have withdrawn ahead of his corruption trial next month, but he has at least one offer to be represented for free – from human rights attorney Richard Spoor, who took to Twitter last week to offer his services to Zuma on a pro bono basis.

Asked whether he was serious about the offer, Spoor reportedly told TimesLIVE: 'I do not expect that he will take me up on the offer, but yes (I am serious), and I do not doubt that there are many other law firms and counsel that would be delighted to take on such a high-profile and important case.'

Spoor, who is based in White River, Mpumalanga, is known for his work in holding SA mining companies accountable for their alleged ill-treatment of workers. Zuma's legal team launched a formal notice of withdrawal of their services in the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) ahead of his corruption trial scheduled to start on 17 May. Full TimesLIVE report

Meanwhile, a former DRC Minister has been arrested in neighbouring Republic of Congo at the request of authorities in Kinshasa who have accused him of embezzlement.

Former Education Minister Willy Bakonga was arrested while attempting to fly to Paris from the Congo capital Brazzaville after Kinshasa requested his extradition. A report on the News24 site notes that DRC prosecutors have been seeking Bakonga since Friday in connection with an embezzlement case.

A report by the DRC's Inspector-General of Finances in November revealed 'a number of shortcomings and alleged cases of fraud and corruption in connection with the use of public funds in the sector, as well as weaknesses in internal controls'. It estimated that about $31m had been siphoned off. Full report on the News24 site

A lawsuit has revealed how the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) raided Mombasa billionaire businessman Mohamed Jaffer's companies over a suspicious tax evasion scheme relating to his oil, grain and liquid petroleum gas operations.

The authority in October obtained a court order and confiscated various documents. The Daily Nation reports that KRA claims that the preliminary findings revealed that One Petroleum Limited, Africa Gas and Oil Company Limited, One Gas Ltd and Grain Bulk Handling Limited had cheated the taxman of $623 000.

The KRA withdrew tax compliance certificates for Jaffer's companies on the basis that the companies were owned by the same families and investigations will involve all of them. Full Daily Nation report

And SA's Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has welcomed the arrest of businessman Michael Lomas by UK authorities in connection with Eskom's R745m Kusile power station alleged fraud, unauthorised gratification, corruption and money laundering case.

Politics Web reports that the arrest brings to five the number of people arrested in relation to the alleged crimes. Lamos is expected to join his co-accused, former Eskom executives Abram Masango and France Hlakudi, businessman Maphoko Kgomoeswana and Tubular Construction CEO Antonio Trindade in court on 1 June.

The arrests follow an intensive investigation conducted by the SIU which uncovered evidence pointing to criminal action against the five accused. The evidence, as required by SIU Act, was referred to the National Prosecuting Authority and also to the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (Hawks) for further attention. Statement on the Politicsweb site

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