Grootfontein fraud probe drags on

No arrests have been made 18 months after the police began investigating a fraud case in which the Grootfontein municipality paid N$150 000 to alleged fraudsters.

18 September 2020 | Police And Crime

Kenya Kambowe

RUNDU



Eighteen months after a case was opened with the police, no arrests have yet been made in a fraud case that saw N$150 000 transferred from the Grootfontein municipality's bank account to alleged fraudsters.

This was confirmed yesterday by Otjozondjupa police spokesperson, Inspector Maureen Mbeha, who said the matter is still under investigation.

“Nothing much has changed. No arrest has been made yet and police investigations continue,” she said.

The case has been under investigation since March 2019.



Security scam

Last year, Namibian Sun reported that the alleged fraudsters submitted a letter to the Grootfontein municipality, claiming that the banking details of Rubicon Security, the company that provides the local authority with security services, had changed.

The municipality then made payments into the bank account provided by the alleged fraudsters.

According to copies of proof of payments seen by Namibian Sun, the former 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 2019 and the second, for the same amount, on 27 February 2019.

The municipality's finance executive Ileni Hainghumbi was on suspension during this time.



Inside job

It is alleged the fraud was an inside job by those who took advantage of council coffers while Hainghumbi was on suspension.

The matter came to light when Rubicon Security enquired in March 2019 why it had not received payment, which subsequently led to Ameb opening a case of fraud with the police.

Last year, Rubicon Security director Christo Groenewald told Namibian Sun they had not instructed the municipality to change their banking details.

He added Rubicon's headquarters is 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 you should phone that office and make sure you speak to the person who you know to confirm whether the banking details have changed.”

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