N$163m investment scheme-accused couple arrest challenged as ‘unlawful’

CHARGED … Coenie Botha and his wife and co-accused, Charlotte Murove, on their way to the holding cells at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Photo: Werner Menges

A Windhoek couple arrested in connection with an alleged investment scheme involving N$163 million are due to appear in court again today, after a lawyer representing them argued yesterday that their arrest was unlawful.

Defence lawyer Sisa Namandje argued before magistrate Dawid Mukuyu in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court that Coenraad (‘Coenie’) Botha (69) and his wife, Charlotte Murove (32), were unlawfully arrested, as the police did not have warrants for their arrest before they were taken into custody at Buitepos in the Omaheke region this week.

After hearing arguments from Namandje and public prosecutor Seredine Jacobs, who defended the arrest of the two accused, Mukuyu said he would give a ruling on the lawfulness of the arrest today.

Botha and Murove made a first court appearance on 64 charges on Wednesday.

They have been held in custody since their arrest.

A lawyer representing them, Afrika Jantjies, was also arrested in connection with the case on Wednesday. However, he was released on Wednesday evening, without being charged.

Botha and Murove are facing one charge of fraud, 31 counts of conducting a banking business while not authorised to do so, which is a contravention of the Banking Institutions Act of 1998, 31 counts of money laundering, and one charge of conducting a Ponzi scheme, in which money is solicited from investors and earlier investors are repaid with money received from later investors.

In the fraud charge, the state is alleging that they misrepresented to investors during the period from 2018 to 2022 that they were operating a legitimate business authorised to receive investments from members of the public and that such investments would grow with interest, while knowing that they were not authorised to receive any deposits or investments from members of the public.

It is also alleged in the fraud charge that investors paid a total amount of N$163 million to them.

Botha ran an investment scheme which he described as a crypto currency exchange through the company CBI Exchange Namibia, of which he is a director and which was formerly known as Uhuru Tribe and also referred to as Uhuru Cash.

The Bank of Namibia and CBI Exchange Namibia have been involved in legal disputes and litigation in the High Court and also the Supreme Court after the central bank had the bank account of CBI Exchange Namibia frozen in March 2022.

Bank of Namibia spokesperson Kazembire Zemburuka said in a media statement on Wednesday that the bank conducted an investigation into the business activities of CBI Exchange Namibia and Botha, and concluded that they contravened the Banking Institutions Act by receiving deposits of money from the public.

Stating that Botha has been arrested and appeared in court, Zemburuka added: “The successful prosecution of matters of this nature requires the assistance of the public and in particular persons who have made deposits consequent to the business operations of persons and/or entities engaging in conduct in contravention of the [Banking Institutions] Act.”

He said the central bank called on depositors who have placed funds with CBI Exchange Namibia or Botha to contact the Namibian Police.

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