Grootfontein fraud investigation drags on
21 August 2019 | Crime
The police have made no arrests yet in a fraud case involving N$150 000 that was transferred from the Grootfontein municipality’s bank account.
This was confirmed by Otjozondjupa police spokesperson Inspector Maureen Mbeha, who said the matter was still being investigated.
The case has been under investigation since March.
Fraudsters submitted a letter to the local authority indicating that the banking details of Rubicon Security, the company that provides security services to the municipality, had changed.
The municipality then made payments into the bank account given by the fraudsters.
According to copies of proof of payment seen by Namibian Sun, Grootfontein municipality acting CEO Arnold Ameb and chief accountant Martha Hamunyela authorised payment requests submitted by the town’s accountant, Serah Hialulwa, on two separate occasions.
The first payment of N$74 923.23 was authorised on 29 January and the second, for same amount, on 27 February.
The matter came to light when Rubicon Security enquired in March why it had not received its payment.
Ameb approached the Grootfontein police on 6 March and opened a case of fraud.
However in a letter dated 3 July to mayor Abisai Haimene, the municipality’s finance executive, Ileni Hainghumbi, accused Ameb of being responsible for a number of transactions made by the municipality while he was on suspension. These transactions included the fraud case that is under investigation.
“The acting chief executive prudently authorised the fake bank details of Rubicon Security from the correct bank details to the made-up bank account. The acting chief executive officer has on two occasions authorised payments to the made-up bank account to the amount of N$149 846.40,” the letter reads.
When contacted for comment in May, Rubicon Security director Christo Groenewald said the company never instructed the municipality to change its banking details.
He added that Rubicon’s headquarters are in Tsumeb, while letterheads used by the fraudsters indicated they were in Henties Bay, which he said should have raised alarm.
“So many people are trying their luck to inform a specific debtor that your banking details have changed; we see that a lot in the industry,” he said.
“What you do when you receive such a letter is to phone that office and make sure you speak to the person that you know to confirm whether the banking details have changed.”