Conradie Wants More Info On Charges

WINDHOEK-BASED lawyer Dirk Conradie, who is due to be prosecuted on four criminal charges in the High Court, wants the prosecution to provide more information on one of the charges to him before a special plea that he has raised can be argued.

South African senior counsel Vas Soni, who is representing Conradie, asked Acting Judge Thomas Masuku in the Windhoek High Court on Thursday last week to direct the prosecution to provide further particulars on a charge under the Companies Act to Conradie.

State aocate Ed Marondedze opposed the request.

Acting Judge Masuku is due to give a ruling on the request to be provided with further particulars tomorrow.

The judge was expected to hear arguments on the special plea raised by Conradie on Thursday. Instead of that, only arguments on Conradie’s request for further particulars were heard.

Conradie (56) and an associate, Sara Damases (50), are jointly indicted on three charges under the Anti-Corruption Act. These are counts of corruptly soliciting gratification as a reward for using influence in procuring a contract, corruptly using an office or position to obtain gratification, and attempting or conspiring to contravene sections of the Anti-Corruption Act.

Conradie alone is also facing a fourth charge in terms of the Companies Act, namely failing to disclose an interest in a contract of significance to be entered into by a company. His request to be provided with additional information is in respect of the charge under the Companies Act.

The prosecution is alleging that Conradie, who at that stage was the chairperson of the board of directors of cellphone company MTC, solicited or demanded gratification from the directors of an aertising company, 8 Saatchi amp Saatchi, during a meeting at the offices of his law firm, Conradie amp Damaseb, in Windhoek on 12 June 2012. He allegedly did so by asking the aertising company’s directors to agree to take Damases on board in their business as a black economic empowerment partner or in any other role, while promising that in return he would use his influence with the MTC board to ensure an aertising contract worth about N$60 million would be awarded to 8.

In the charge in terms of the Companies Act the state is alleging that Conradie failed to disclose to the MTC board of directors, which discussed the aertising tender at a meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, on 19 June 2012, that he had an interest in the contract that was due to be awarded.

In the special plea that he has raised, Conradie is claiming that the High Court of Namibia cannot try him on the charge under the Companies Act, because it involves an offence allegedly committed in Portugal and the High Court’s jurisdiction does not extend beyond the borders of Namibia.

Conradie is also claiming the three corruption charges are invalid. According to him the evidence on which those charges are based were secured illegally and improperly and in violation of his constitutional rights.

Damases’ defence lawyer, senior counsel Gerson Hinda, told Acting Judge Masuku last week she would abide by the court’s decision on the special plea.

Soni argued on Thursday that the exact nature of the charge under the Companies Act, including the place where the alleged offence was committed, was not clear.

The trial was scheduled to start on 16 April, but has remained stalled at the starting line since then due to last-minute legal moves by the accused which had not been raised or pursued over the period of more than a year that their case has been pending in the High Court.

Source : The Namibian