NDF fraud suspect admits guilt

NDF fraud suspect admits guilt

FORMER Defence Ministry personnel officer Emmanuel Mununga – the main accused in one of Namibia’s largest fraud cases since Independence – admitted guilt on 186 charges of fraud when his long-delayed trial finally started in the High Court in Windhoek yesterday.

Almost five years and nine months after his arrest on charges that he defrauded the Ministry of Defence, the Namibia Defence Force and Sanlam Namibia of millions of Namibia dollars through a scheme in which he had submitted false claims for the payment of death benefits due to NDF members, Mununga admitted that he was guilty as charged. Having heard Mununga’s plea, State advocate Orben Sibeya informed Acting Judge Christie Liebenberg that the State had decided to withdraw all the charges against the 22 people who were due to stand trial with Mununga.They were set to face 226 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, involving a total of N$6,566 million that Mununga was accused of embezzling through the alleged death-benefit scam between January 23 1996 and November 27 2000.Proceedings before Acting Judge Liebenberg started yesterday, with Sibeya announcing that the State had decided to withdraw 40 of the 226 original charges.That brought the amount claimed to have been lost by Sanlam Namibia, the Ministry of Defence and the NDF through the fraud scheme that Mununga was accused of orchestrating to N$5,425 million.Sibeya withdrew the charges against Mununga’s 22 co-accused after Mununga’s defence counsel, Unanisa Hengari, had read out a written statement in which the basis of Mununga’s guilty plea was explained to the court.”(A)t all material times I acted alone”, Mununga stated at one point in the plea explanation.His co-accused however entered the picture through bank accounts belonging to them that he used to receive the money that Sanlam Namibia paid out as a result of misrepresentations that he had made to the company, Mununga added.They did not know about the fraud that he was perpetrating, he claimed.He explained that he committed the fraud by making copies of death certificates that he obtained at the archives of the Ministry of Defence.He stated that he inserted new names on the documents before he misled Sanlam Namibia by presenting these to the insurance company as part of claims in which he pretended that NDF or Defence Ministry staff members who were part of the Ministry’s life insurance scheme with Sanlam Namibia had died, whereas he knew that this was not the case.Together with these false claims he also fraudulently submitted the names of false beneficiaries – they were the ones later charged as his co-accused in the case – to Sanlam Namibia, Mununga admitted.The end result of his misrepresentations was that Sanlam Namibia paid out death benefits to the supposed beneficiaries, and that Mununga then deposited the cheques made out to them into their bank accounts.After making these deposits, he again requested the people whose bank accounts he had used to pay that money over to him, he explained in the plea statement.He would explain to them that the deposits were merely part of his own business transactions.Where the people whose bank accounts he was using started to ask questions about the origin of the money that had been paid into their accounts, he would stop using those accounts, Mununga stated.He added that he knew throughout that his conduct was unlawful and punishable.”I humbly request this honourable court to show mercy and leniency and I vow never to repeat such offence or any other offence in the future,” Mununga’s plea explanation ended.Mununga is supposed to return to the High Court on Wednesday next week, when Acting Judge Liebenberg is set to start hearing possible evidence and arguments in preparation for Mununga’s sentencing.Mununga remains free on a warning from the court.Sibeya asked that the warning be cancelled and that he should be kept in custody after Acting Judge Liebenberg had convicted him on the basis of his own plea, but the Acting Judge opted to extend the warning.He said he did not see any reason to revoke the court’s warning to Mununga, considering that he has faithfully been attending all his court appearances over the years that the case has been pending against him.Fellow Prosecutor Douglas Zulu is assisting Sibeya in the case.Having heard Mununga’s plea, State advocate Orben Sibeya informed Acting Judge Christie Liebenberg that the State had decided to withdraw all the charges against the 22 people who were due to stand trial with Mununga.They were set to face 226 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, involving a total of N$6,566 million that Mununga was accused of embezzling through the alleged death-benefit scam between January 23 1996 and November 27 2000.Proceedings before Acting Judge Liebenberg started yesterday, with Sibeya announcing that the State had decided to withdraw 40 of the 226 original charges.That brought the amount claimed to have been lost by Sanlam Namibia, the Ministry of Defence and the NDF through the fraud scheme that Mununga was accused of orchestrating to N$5,425 million.Sibeya withdrew the charges against Mununga’s 22 co-accused after Mununga’s defence counsel, Unanisa Hengari, had read out a written statement in which the basis of Mununga’s guilty plea was explained to the court.”(A)t all material times I acted alone”, Mununga stated at one point in the plea explanation.His co-accused however entered the picture through bank accounts belonging to them that he used to receive the money that Sanlam Namibia paid out as a result of misrepresentations that he had made to the company, Mununga added.They did not know about the fraud that he was perpetrating, he claimed.He explained that he committed the fraud by making copies of death certificates that he obtained at the archives of the Ministry of Defence.He stated that he inserted new names on the documents before he misled Sanlam Namibia by presenting these to the insurance company as part of claims in which he pretended that NDF or Defence Ministry staff members who were part of the Ministry’s life insurance scheme with Sanlam Namibia had died, whereas he knew that this was not the case.Together with these false claims he also fraudulently submitted the names of false beneficiaries – they were the ones later charged as his co-accused in the case – to Sanlam Namibia, Mununga admitted.The end result of his misrepresentations was that Sanlam Namibia paid out death benefits to the supposed beneficiaries, and that Mununga then deposited the cheques made out to them into their bank accounts.After making these deposits, he again requested the people whose bank accounts he had used to pay that money over to him, he explained in the plea statement.He would explain to them that the deposits were merely part of his own business transactions.Where the people whose bank accounts he was using started to ask questions about the origin of the money that had been paid into their accounts, he would stop using those accounts, Mununga stated.He added that he knew throughout that his conduct was unlawful and punishable.”I humbly request this honourable court to show mercy and leniency and I vow never to repeat such offence or any other offence in the future,” Mununga’s plea explanation ended.Mununga is supposed to return to the High Court on Wednesday next week, when Acting Judge Liebenberg is set to start hearing possible evidence and arguments in preparation for Mununga’s sentencing.Mununga remains free on a warning from the court.Sibeya asked that the warning be cancelled and that he should be kept in custody after Acting Judge Liebenberg had convicted him on the basis of his own plea, but the Acting Judge opted to extend the warning.He said he did not see any reason to revoke the court’s warning to Mununga, considering that he has faithfully been attending all his court appearances over the years that the case has been pending against him.Fellow Prosecutor Douglas Zulu is assisting Sibeya in the case.

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