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Namra official stays behind bars after refusing cross-examination

THE bail application of Namibia Revenue Agency (Namra) employee Anton ‘Toni’ Illarius, who is implicated in a corruption and money laundering case, was dismissed in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court after he refused to be cross-examined.

Illarius (42), through his legal representative Bernhard Tjatjara, filed an application last year in December, pleading with the court to be released on bail after spending three months in custody since his arrest in October 2022.

The accused, a senior taxation officer at Namra’s Rundu regional office, was arrested for allegedly defrauding the government of N$3 million in taxes.

In his affidavit seen by The Namibian, Illarius told the court he is financially responsible for six schoolgoing children, and has financial obligations to repay Letshego.

He said he has no intention of fleeing the country and leaving his family, and does not have anywhere else to go because his passport expired last August.

He said he has no mobility or financial means to abscond and live outside the country.

During her ruling recently, magistrate Sonia Sampofu dismissed the application due to the seriousness of the offences and that it would not be in the interest of the administration of justice for the accused to be released on bail.

“Whether or not the applicant in the matter has demonstrated on a balance of probabilities that he may not abscond, I am of the view that the charges faced by the applicant are serious, the sum of money involved is huge, and he diverted state resources for his own benefit, and the allegations against him remain unanswered as he has declined to be cross-examined,” said Sampofu.

She said she finds the investigating officer to be a credible witness, saying his testimony remained the same even when cross-examined.

“He [Illarius] is facing serious charges, and there is a likelihood of him being sentenced to a long term of imprisonment if convicted,” she said.

Illarius is facing charges of fraud, two counts of defeating the course of justice, one count of money laundering, and one count of corruptly using his office for self-gratification.

State witness warrant officer Thomas Makanga told the court because Illarius could receive a long prison term, he could abscond.

Makanga told the court Illarius was a danger to the public because of the offences he committed.

It is alleged that Illarius approached Ade Pandeki, the owner of Oruzuvo, an automotive spare parts shop, and informed him that he was employed by Namra and he is authorised to collect money and pay it to Namra on his behalf.

Makanga said Illarius told Pandeki he would assist him, because Namra’s offices are always full.

It is further alleged that Illarius tampered with Namra’s system by changing the arrears amount so that Oruzuvo seemingly does not owe Namra anything, and also changed his cellphone number on the system to prevent him from being notified of his indebtedness to Namra.

The investigative officer said certain staff members of Namra at Rundu and potential witnesses in the case are scared to provide the police with information, and since the accused is a senior officer, he may influence potential witnesses not to provide any information to the police if released on bail.

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