Blaauw allegedly contact person in Avid/SSC matter

WINDHOEK; Former acting Secretary-General of the National Youth Council (NYC), Ralph Blaauw was allegedly the contact person between the Social Security Commission (SSC) and Avid Investment.

This was said here on Wednesday by the SSC’s former Senior Manager for Corporate Finance, Gideon Muelder, in his testimony on the second day of the trial of the seven people implicated in the N.dollars 30 million fraud scam involving Avid Investment and the Social Security Commission.

According to Muelder, Blaauw was also the person who had allegedly introduced his co-accused and former Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Paulus Iilonga Kapia to the SSC and to Muelder.

He said Blaauw came to his office on 20 January 2005 and gave him information about the profile of Avid Investment.

“Blaauw also introduced Kapia as Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communication to me. At the time, I was of the opinion that Ralph Blaauw was the contact person between Social Security Commission and Avid Investment,” said Muelder.

He further testified that Labour Ministry official and lawyer Otniel Podewiltz had also allegedly come to his office and “he (Podewiltz) was speaking to me (Muelder) in his capacity as a director in Avid Investment.”

Muelder told the court that the names of both Kapia and Podewiltz were on the list containing the names of shareholders and directors in Avid Investment, but Blaauw’s name did not appear on the list.

It also came to light on Wednesday during Muelder’s evidence that the controversial and little-known Avid Investment Asset Management Company was never shortlisted by the SSC to receive funds for investment purposes during a first evaluation in 2004.

However, Avid was placed on the list at a later stage after the SSC received its business profile and a list of names of the shareholders in the little-known asset management company.

Kapia is accused number one in the fraud scam trial and Podewiltz is accused number three, while Blaauw is listed as accused number five in the matter.

The seven suspects on trial are Windhoek-based businessman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Namangol Asset Management Company Nico Josea; Kapia; Podewiltz; Avid Investment’s Administrative Secretary Inez //Gases; Blaauw and his wife Sharon Blaauw.

The other suspect is retired Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Brigadier Mathias Shiweda.

All seven have denied any involvement in the matter or knowledge of the missing money.

They denied the allegations against them when each pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, corruption and giving false evidence in an inquiry in terms of the Companies’ Act at the start of their trial here on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the State alleges that the seven suspects were all directors in the Avid Investment Asset Management Company, which obtained money from the SSC allegedly through its links in the ruling Swapo-Party.

The money was then apparently invested in an offshore company, but it could later not be accounted for.

The disappearance of the money led to a High Court inquiry before acting Judge Raymond Heathcote in 2005.

Avid Investment CEO, the late Lazarus Kandara who was believed to be the kingpin in the Avid/SCC saga, reportedly committed suicide while under police escort in front of the Windhoek Police Station during the inquiry.

All suspects are currently free on bail of N.dollars 10 000 each.

Deputy Prosecutor-General, Ed Marondedze and State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi are appearing for the prosecution.

Windhoek-based defence lawyers Sisa Namandje, Advocate Richard Metcalfe, Christie Mostert, Werner Boesak and Slysken Makando are defending the seven accused persons.

The trial continues on Friday.