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Setback for Amushelelo in organised crime case

THE activist and alleged investment scheme fraudster has failed with an attack on a property preservation order that the prosecutor general obtained over some of his assets in December 2020.

In a judgement delivered in the Windhoek High Court on Friday, judge Thomas Masuku dismissed an application in which Amushelelo wanted the court to declare an interim property preservation order obtained by prosecutor general Martha Imalwa on 4 December 2020 as a nullity.

Amushelelo alleged the order was a nullity because it was issued by a High Court judge in his chambers, instead of in open court.

In terms of that order, eight motor vehicles – including a Range Rover, two Mercedes-Benzes, two BMWs and two Audis, all bought during the period of January to September 2019 – and 13 bank accounts in Amushelelo’s name and of corporate entities in which he has a stake were ordered to be preserved in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

The interim order was made a final order on 29 January 2021. Imalwa has subsequently applied for an order to have the eight vehicles and money in the 13 bank accounts forfeited to the state. That application is pending in the High Court.

In the application on which Masuku gave his judgement, Amushelelo claimed the interim property preservation order granted in December 2020 was a nullity because it was in breach of the Constitution and the High Court Act’s stipulations that court proceedings should take place in open court.

In his judgement, Masuku said Amushelelo could not ask a judge of the High Court to declare an order given by another judge as a nullity. To do that, he should have appealed to the Supreme Court against the High Court’s order, Masuku said.

Amushelelo and a business partner Gregory Cloete are facing 365 criminal charges in the High Court in connection with an alleged fraudulent investment scheme that they ran during 2018 and 2019.

In an affidavit filed in her Prevention of Organised Crime Act case against Amushelelo and corporate entities in which he has a stake, Imalwa is alleging that Amushelelo ran a multimillion-dollar fraudulent scheme, named ‘Project One Million’, in which he solicited money from people, promising the funds would be invested in foreign currency trading.

Amushelelo lured investors by promising them unrealistically high growth of 50% over a two-month period on money invested, Imalwa says.

However, Amushelelo did not invest money received from investors in foreign exchange trading, but used the funds received from later investors in his scheme to repay earlier investors, Imalwa is alleging.

In affidavits filed at the High Court, Imalwa says investigations have shown that investors paid a total amount of about N$86,9 million into bank accounts of Amushelelo and entities controlled by him from September 2018 to October 2019.

The accounts’ banking records do not reflect that the money received from investors was invested in foreign currencies, Imalwa states.

Out of the nearly N$87 million received from investors, about N$64,8 million was paid out to investors, while substantial funds were used by Amushelelo to buy assets, including the cars covered by the property preservation order, and to finance a lavish lifestyle, according to Imalwa.

By July 2020, there was a total amount of about N$13,2 million in the bank accounts of Amushelelo and his business entities, Imalwa has informed the court.

Also in affidavits filed at the court, Amushelelo denies that the business he says he was conducting was prohibited by any law in Namibia.

The prosecutor general “relies on wrong interpretation of the facts, conjecture and speculation”, he says.

Amushelelo also claims investigations carried out by the police and the Bank of Namibia were unlawful, with the result that all evidence obtained through the investigations may not be used against him.

He further denies that he conducted an illegal banking business or a Ponzi investment scheme, and that the assets covered by the property preservation order are proceeds of crime.

Imalwa’s application for the forfeiture of the vehicles and funds in the bank accounts under the property preservation order was postponed to 16 February on Friday.

Lawyer Sisa Namandje is representing Amushelelo in the Prevention of Organised Crime Act proceedings. The prosecutor general is represented by Loide Angula.

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