Ex-NWR boss’ alleged fraud trial sees another postponement

The continuation of the alleged fraud trial of former Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) Managing Director Tobie Aupindi and co-accused Antonio Di Savino, has been postponed to early March this year.

The two local business personalities made another appearance before Magistrate John Sindano along Luderitz Street here on Wednesday morning, when they were informed that their trial would resume on 11 March.

The trial could not continue because Windhoek Magistrate Helvi Kauna Shilemba who is presiding over this matter, was not present in court due to other official commitments.

In the matter, it is alleged that Di Savino paid for a N.dollars 50 000 swimming pool which was installed at Aupindi’s home in return for tenders for the refurbishment of the parastatal’s resorts.

The 36-year-old Aupindi and his co-accused Di Savino, whose age was not given, had already entered not guilty pleas to a number of charges under the Anti-Corruption Act of 2003 at the start of their corruption trial in February 2012.

The two men each pleaded not guilty to a main count of allegedly corruptly providing false information to an authorized officer; as well as an alternative count of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

The duo had entered their pleas as per Section 119 of Namibia’s Criminal Procedures Act, and as per instruction from their respective defense lawyers.

The two accused suffered a heavy blow in February 2012 when the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court dismissed their application for discharge.

As a result, they were put on their defense.

The two men’s defense lawyers of Advocate Richard Metcalfe and Louis Du Pisani had brought the urgent applications for the discharge of their clients in February 2012, shortly after Public Prosecutor Arrie Husselmann, who appeared for the prosecution during the hearing of the discharge application, closed the State’s case.

The unsuccessful applications were brought before court in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedures’ Act, the defense lawyers stated at the time.

These lawyers wanted the court to discharge their clients on the grounds that there had been no prima facie evidence presented before court at that stage of the trial to indicate that their clients were involved in the alleged corruption as the State claimed.

Husselmann, however, had asked the court to dismiss the discharge application, arguing that the accused should testify before court.

Evidence contained in a summary of substantial facts in the charge-sheet has it that the former NWR boss had provided false information to an investigating officer of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), William Lloyd, by stating that he had paid N.dollars 50 000 in cash to local company LIC Pools for a swimming pool installed at his house along 25 Kestrel Street, Hochland Park.

The allegation against Aupindi is that he did not pay for the swimming pool himself, and that Di Savino in fact paid for the pool as a kickback in exchange for tile tenders at NWR resorts.

Di Savino, like Aupindi, faces charges of providing false information to an ACC investigator, and attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

The former NWR chief left the parastatal at the end of December 2010, four months before his contract was due to expire.

Media reports at the time claimed that he received a ‘golden handshake’ of about N.dollars 4,5 million.

Aupindi and Di Savino are free on bail, and their bail was extended until 11 March 2015 for the continuation of the trial.

Public Prosecutor Erastus Hatutale appeared for the State.