Govt Explains Bannai Botch Up to Poland

THE government has presented an official explanation to the Polish government regarding the failed extradition of Israeli businessman Boris Bannai to Poland to face criminal charges.

The Polish Embassy in Pretoria confirmed this weekend that Namibia had responded to their repeated requests for an explanation over the issue.

On Sunday, Ambassador Anna Raduchowska-Brochwicz told The Namibian through an e-mail that: “I would also like to confirm that the Polish government has received – through diplomatic channels – an official answer with [an] explanation regarding the matter of [the] failed extradition of Boris Bannai.”

The e-mail further stated that the Polish government is yet to issue an official reaction to Namibia’s communication.

In March, The Namibian reported that the government had informed the Polish government that it would continue proceedings to extradite Bannai and gave an assurance that the extradition request was still valid.

The Polish authorities said that earlier this year the Namibian government could not explain the failure to extradite Bannai, despite three requests for an explanation by Poland since 2012.

Ironically, Minister of Justice Utoni Nujoma was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2012 and the two requests sent to Namibia then, were sent to his office.

Nujoma then took over the justice ministry in December 2012 and only acted on Poland’s request in March this year after media reports of a possible strain in diplomatic relations if the government continued to ignore the requests.

The justice ministry has also ignored The Namibian’s requests for information on the matter. Furthermore, The Namibian has learnt that Nujoma issued instructions that his office would deal with the media regarding the matter but had not responded to any questions since February.

Calls and text messages sent to his mobile phone also went unanswered. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, did not respond to questions sent to the ministry at the time of going to print.

Bannai has been doing business in Namibia since 2001 and is a close friend of President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s son-in-law, oil exploration millionaire Swapo Ndume.

In 2012, Poland applied for his extradition to face charges of fraud, money laundering, violating his fiduciary responsibility to his Polish company and manipulating its shareholding in favour of his son David and his own benefit.

This was after a Polish district court concluded that Bannai was hiding from the Polish law enforcement authorities and had failed to appear when summoned by the public prosecutor’s office.

Bannai denied any wrongdoing, claiming the Polish authorities had never summoned him, although he was arrested by Namibian police in March 2012 after the Polish extradition request. The court freed him on N$1 million bail and ordered him to report weekly to a Namibian Interpol representative.

His extradition hearing before Windhoek magistrate Ruth Herunga was thrown out after it was found that the request was not made within 30 days of Bannai’s arrest as required by the Extradition Act. It later transpired that the case was dismissed on the morning of 30th day and that ministry of justice officials had failed to alert the court of the arrival of the papers.

Source : The Namibian