Mrs Kandara Recounts Payments to Avid Figures

THREE of the people charged with the embezzlement of an investment of N$30 million of the Social Security Commission in 2005 received cash payments on instructions from the late Lazarus Kandara, who played a key role in the bungled investment of the SSC’s money, Kandara’s widow testified in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

In a repeat of testimony that she delivered in the High Court during a Companies Act enquiry into the financial collapse of the asset management company, Avid Investment Corporation, nine years ago, Christophine Kandara told Judge Christie Liebenberg that she handed cash payments of N$40 000 each to Otniel Podewiltz, Ralph Blaauw and Mathias Shiweda at her family’s house one weekend during February or March 2005.

Mrs Kandara said she gave the money to the three men after her husband, who was in South Africa at that time, had asked her during a telephone conversation to do so.

She gave N$40 000 to Podewiltz and Blaauw each when they visited her house on a Saturday, “five or 10 minutes” after another of the accused on trial before Judge Liebenberg, Nico Josea, had delivered between N$220 000 and N$240 000 in cash to her at home, Mrs Kandara said.

She added that she also gave Blaauw an extra N$40 000. Her husband’s instructions were that Blaauw had to give the extra N$40 000 to one “Kapia”, Mrs Kandara said. She later deduced that her husband was talking about Swapo member of parliament Paulus Kapia, but she did not know whether the money that Blaauw had to give to the said “Kapia” was given to Paulus Kapia or not, she said.

Mrs Kandara further testified that her husband indicated to her that she should not give an additional N$40 000, which was supposed to go to Shiweda, to Blaauw and Podewiltz, because he did not trust them with money meant for Shiweda.

She said Shiweda picked up the N$40 000 meant for him at her house on the day after Blaauw and Podewiltz had received the cash from her. Shiweda arrived at the house in the company of Podewiltz, she said.

Kapia, Blaauw, Podewiltz and Shiweda denied during the Companies Act enquiry into the collapse of Avid that they had received any payments from Mrs Kandara.

In the indictment in which the prosecution has set out the charges against the seven accused on trial before Judge Liebenberg it is alleged that the four men falsely denied receiving the money when they testified during the enquiry.

Kapia and Podewiltz are former directors of Avid, which was set up by Kandara in 2004. Podewiltz was no longer a director of the company by the time that the SSC was persuaded in January 2005 to invest N$30 million with the company, though.

Blaauw’s wife, lawyer Sharon Blaauw, was also a director of Avid, while Shiweda was – according to a plea explanation that he has given to the court – informed by Mr Blaauw that he was an 8% shareholder in Avid, although he never received proof of his supposed shareholding.

Kapia, Podewiltz, Ralph and Sharon Blaauw, Shiweda, Josea and the former chairperson of Avid’s board of directors, Inez Gacircses, are all charged with a main charge of fraud, alternatively theft, as well as other charges in connection with the alleged embezzlement of the SSC’s investment of N$30 million with Avid.

After the SSC transferred N$30 million to a bank account of Avid near the end of January 2005, N$29,5 million of that amount was transferred to an account of Namangol Investments, which was a company owned by Josea. From Namangol Investments’ account, N$20 million was then transferred to a South African bank account of an entity known as Allan Rosenberg Investment Services.

The prosecution is alleging that Rosenberg transferred N$14,89 million to Josea’s personal bank account in mid-March 2005, and that Josea “thereafter dealt with it as if it belonged to him”.

The seven accused have denied guilt on all charges.

Mrs Kandara is due to continue with her testimony today.

Source : The Namibian