vid was never shortlisted by SSC for investment funds – Muelder

WINDHOEK; The controversial and little-known Avid Investment Asset Management Company was never shortlisted by the Social Security Commission (SSC) to receive funds for investment purposes during a first evaluation in 2004.

This was confirmed here on Wednesday by the SSC’s former Senior Manager for Corporate Finance, Gideon Muelder, in his testimony on the second day of the trial of the seven people implicated in the N.dollars 30 million fraud scam involving Avid Investment and the Social Security Commission.

According to Muelder, a number of senior officials at the SSC had also strongly questioned the business credibility of Avid Investment to be entrusted with the funds for investment.

He said Avid Investment’s business profile as well as a list containing names of shareholders and directors was not provided to the SSC when a first evaluation was done in 2004 on the business entities that were to receive funds for investment.

“We (senior officials at the SSC) did not have any information about Avid Investment. The business credibility of Avid was questioned by many senior officials at SSC, including me, Gideon Muelder,” he said, noting that these were some of the reasons why Avid Investment was not shortlisted during the initial evaluation in 2004.

However, Avid Investment was placed on the list at a later stage after the SSC received its business profile and a list of names of the shareholders in the little-known asset management company.

This was also done (placement of Avid Investment on the list) after SSC officials held a number of meetings with former Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Paulus Iilonga Kapia and the former acting Secretary-General of the National Youth Council (NYC) Ralph Blaauw.

Kapia is accused number one (1) in the fraud scam trial, while Ralph Blaauw is listed as accused number five (5) in the matter.

It also came to light during Muelder’s evidence (testimony) that both Kapia and Ralph Blaauw were on the list containing the names of shareholders and directors in Avid Investment, and they fully participated in meetings prior to the transfer of the alleged missing money to Avid Investment.

This list and other related documents were also presented and handed in as evidence before court on Wednesday.

All seven people on trial in connection with the N.dollars 30 million fraud scam, have denied any involvement or knowledge of the missing money.

The seven former Avid Investment directors denied the allegations when they each pleaded “not guilty” to 10 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, corruption and giving false evidence in an inquiry in terms of the Companies’ Act at the start of their trial here yesterday (on Tuesday).

They are Windhoek-based businessman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Namangol Asset Management Company Nico Josea; Kapia; Avid Investment’s Administrative Secretary Inez //Gases; Ralph Blaauw and his wife Sharon Blaauw.

The other two suspects are Labour Ministry official and lawyer Otniel Podewiltz, and retired Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Brigadier Mathias Shiweda.

The seven men, in explaining their pleas of ‘not guilty’, all denied the allegations contained in the charge sheet and each challenged the State to prove otherwise.

The State alleges that the seven suspects were all directors in the Avid Investment Asset Management Company, which obtained money from the SSC allegedly through its links in the ruling Swapo-Party.

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

All the suspects are currently free on bail of N.dollars 10 000 each.

Deputy Prosecutor-General, Ed Marondedze and State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi are appearing for the prosecution.

Windhoek-based defence lawyers Sisa Namandje, Advocate Richard Metcalfe, Christie Mostert, Werner Boesak and Slysken Makando are defending the seven accused persons.

Trial continues on Friday.