Defence grills top cop in fraud case

Two Chinese men accused of money-laundering, as well as their Namibian co-accused, are equally likely to abscond if granted bail, the lead investigator argued in court yesterday.

11 January 2017 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGE



Tasked to head the investigation into a N$3.5 billion money-laundering scam, Chief Inspector John Mutongwe mumbled in court when he took to the stand to testify in the case involving businessman Laurentius Julius and his co-accused, Chinese nationals Huizhong Tau and Huang Jinrong.

During cross-examination, Mutongwe directly accused the three accused of fraud and money-laundering when questioned by Sisa Namandje, who is defending Tau and Jinrong. Asked how he knew, Mutongwe said documentary evidence the police had on hand suggested the guilt of the three accused.

Mutongwe admitted not knowing the location of accused number four, Chinese national Zhu Hanggang, who had been granted bail of N$500 000.

Mutongwe informed the court that 29 other Chinese nationals were under investigation and that arrests were imminent.

That drew the ire of Namandje, who asked Mutongwe why the 29 suspects had not yet been apprehended. Mutongwe indicated that arrests were to follow soon and said the suspects were scattered all over the country, making it difficult to arrest them.

Mutongwe told the court that Julius had travelled abroad at least 50 times, which indicated that he was as much of a flight risk as his co-accused.

That prompted Namandje to ask Mutongwe why his Chinese clients were a flight risk. Mutongwe said because there was no extradition treaty with China, there was no way to trace them if they absconded.

Namandje then asked him whether he knew about the Teko trial, involving another Chinese national who was granted bail. Mutongwe insisted, however, that no bail conditions would be sufficient to keep the accused in Namibia.

Namandje informed the court that he would challenge Mutongwe’s fitness as a witness once the trial began.

In his submission, Advocate Louis Botes, who is representing Julius under instruction from Dirk Conradie, said his client was willing to post bail of N$1.5 million and report to the police in Walvis Bay.

Botes informed the court that his client was also willing to stay within the Walvis Bay and Swakopmund magisterial districts.

Namandje requested to make his argument in favour of bail for Tau and Jinrong on Tuesday because of the non-availability of Magistrate Venatius Alweendo, who presided over the hearing. The hearing was then postponed to Tuesday.

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