Telecom advised to reinstate managers

23 October 2018 | Labour

Telecom Namibia MD Theo Klein has been advised to reinstate three managers who were recently suspended for an alleged fake contract entered into with local printing company Canocopy.

The three are Telecom's chief financial officer, Robert Offner, manager for internal audit and risk, Ben van der Merwe, and manager for corporate governance, legal services and regulatory affairs, Jinah Buys.

Telecom had sought advice regarding the suspensions from law firm Tjombe Elago Incorporated.

Responding to Klein, lawyer Norman Tjombe wrote: “At the onset, we express our opinion that the purported agreement between Telecom and Canocopy appears to be suspect.”

According to Tjombe, it appeared as if Offner's signature had been faked, and the new Canocopy agreement had been entered into while the old contract was still valid and only due to expire on 31 October 2016.

“It also appeared following analysis that a Telecom board resolution, dated 9 March 2016, had authorised Offner to sign the agreement despite the fact that there was no such a meeting was held on that date,” he added.

“The resolution was signed by Mr Frans Ndoroma in his capacity as the MD of Telecom. It is public knowledge that Mr Ndoroma resigned as MD of Telecom in August 2014,” Tjombe said.

“The validity of the purported agreement is also suspect on the grounds that it was virtually impossible that Ndoroma could have signed the board resolution, in the capacity as MD of Telecom, when he was no longer in the employ of Telecom at that relevant time,” Tjombe said.

In the letter to Klein, Tjombe further advised that a handwriting analyst would have to be called in to examine the handwriting of Ndoroma and former Canocopy owner Mike Barnard so that a definitive finding could be made in that regard.

Barnard had previously claimed that his signature was faked. “I did not sign the agreement. I am an honest person. The court will decide who signed it,” he was quoted as saying.

Tjombe also said that it should be probed whether Offner had indeed been out of the country on the day that the contract was signed.

Telecom was also advised by the law firm to lodge a criminal case with the commercial branch of the Namibian police or the Anti-Corruption Commission.

“There is no doubt that, should the agreement be a forgery, that fraud and or corruption has been committed by persons associated with Canocopy and/or Canocopy itself against Telecom and possibly Standard Bank (who appeared to have provided financing to Canocopy as a result of the purported agreement),” Tjombe wrote.

When contacted for comment, Telecom MD Klein said no decision had been made as yet regarding the reinstatement of the three.

Telecom made 16 monthly payments towards a N$12 million contract that turned out to be fake. Canocopy, according to the agreement, would offer Telecom printing facilities for 36 months.

Papers filed in the High Court on 30 August show that Telecom paid Canocopy around N$4.8 million from March 2016 to June 2017.

Canocopy and Telecom are now suing each other for this contract.

OGONE TLHAGE

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