State closes its case in Avid/SCC scandal trial

WINDHOEK: The team representing the State in the trial of seven people arrested in April 2008 in connection with the N.dollars 30 million Avid Investment and Social Security Commission (SSC) fraud scandal, on Monday closed its case.

Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondedze, who is leading the prosecution team, told presiding High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg that the State is closing its case in the matter after the prosecution could not secure the availability of South African citizen, Allan Rosenberg, to provide evidence in the trial.

Rosenberg, supposedly the last witness to testify on behalf of the State, was the very person who was entrusted by the management of the little-known Avid Asset Management Company to invest the missing N.dollars 30 million in South Africa and other offshore markets elsewhere in the world.

“Allan Rosenberg is the last witness on the list of State witnesses. I have sent several e-mails to Allan Rosenberg since last week and today (Monday), but he did not respond to my e-mails.

“At the moment, we found out that there is no other way Allan Rosenberg could be brought to Namibia and testify. In the result, the State is no longer calling further witnesses,” said Marondedze.

The trial was then postponed to Tuesday in order to allow the accused persons’ defence lawyers to file their applications for the discharge of their clients before the Registrar of the High Court as from Monday this week.

The seven suspects were all directors in the Avid company, that was also linked to the ruling Swapo Party.

The accused persons were all present in court on Monday when the State closed its case.

They are Windhoek businessman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Namangol Asset Management Company, Nico Josea; former Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communication and Swapo politician Paulus Kapia; Avid Investment’s Administrative Secretary Inez //Gases; former Acting Secretary-General of the National Youth Council (NYC), Ralph Blaauw; and his wife, Sharon Blaauw; Labour Ministry official and lawyer Otniel Podewiltz, as well as retired Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Brigadier, Mathias Shiweda.

These former Avid Investment directors are each separately charged with about 10 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, corruption and giving false evidence in an inquiry in terms of the Companies’ Act No 28 of 2004.

In 2005, Avid Investment made headlines when it allegedly acquired N.dollars 30 million from the SSC under dubious circumstances.

The money was then 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’s CEO Lazarus Kandara, who was believed to be the kingpin in the Avid/SCC saga, committed suicide while under police escort in front of the Windhoek Police Station during the inquiry.

Local lawyers comprising of Sisa Namandje, Werner Boesak, Kasper Gilroy, Jan Wessels and Slysken Makando are defending the seven accused persons.

State Advocate Marondedze is being assisted by Public Prosecutor Cliff Lutibezi.

All suspects are free on bail of N.dollars 10 000 each and their bail was extended until Tuesday for the start of the applications for their discharge.