Finance ministry senior accountant arrested for corruption

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has arrested a Senior Accountant of the Ministry of Finance, Llewelyn Bezuidenhout, on corruption related charges.

 This follows after a complaint was lodged with the Commission on the 13th of April 2018 by a service provider to various Medical Practitioners, alluding to the fact that claims that were submitted as far back as 2016 were not being processed.

Said the ACC, “The claims in question were claims to the value of N$ 1,350,000.00 where supporting documentation were lost and the Service Provider had to approach PSEMAS with motivation and copies of the claims in order for them to re-consider, evaluate and then authorise the administrators, Methealth Namibia to process and pay the claims. These claims are normally referred to as “stale approvals”.

 The particular Service Provider allegedly made efforts since November 2017 to get PSEMAS to consider these claims which dealt with medical claims for the period October 2016 to February 2017.

 Allegedly PSEMAS employees, of which Bezuidenhout was part, insisted that she as the owner of the business meet with them in person.

The whistle blower, being suspicious due to the delay in processing of the claims and their insistence of a meeting with her in person, then met with Bezuidenhout and recorded the conversation.

During this conversation, Bezuidenhout suggested that staff at Methealth (the Administrators of PSEMAS) needs to be paid “incentives” in order to process the claims and to prioritise them.

The whistleblower approached the Commission and all further conversations between her and Bezuidenhout were recorded.

Bezuidenhout then allegedly suggested that an amount of N$50, 000.00 should be paid in order to ensure that the claims will be processed and that it will be processed as a priority.

In initial sting operation was organized by the ACC where Bezuidenhout was paid an amount of N$ 40,000.00.

Five working days later, Bezuidenhout started providing proof of processing of some of the claims to the whistle-blower via WhatsApp and requested the payment of the remaining N$ 10,000.00.

On Friday the 11th of May 2018 Bezuidenhout was arrested after he received the remaining N$ 10,000.00.

Subsequently, during a search of his person and his residence N$ 35,000.00 of the initial N$ 40,000.00 handed to him was recovered.

In addition, the Commission on the same day questioned an employee of Methealth Namibia on allegations that she received N$ 1000.00 from Bezuidenhout for processing the claims, allegedly, urgently on his request.

She was not detained, but is the subject of further investigation.

Bezuidenhout was charged with contravention of section 43 (1) of the Anti- Corruption Act (Corruptly and intentional use of office or position in order to obtain a gratification for himself) and appeared in the Magistrates Court in Windhoek on Monday the 14th of May 2018.

He was granted N$ 10,000.00 bail and the case was remanded to the 29th of June 2018 for further investigation.

The Commission has in the past received allegations that claims are being “slowed down” in order to create an environment where claimants would be tempted to pay bribes in order to get their claims processed.

The information, however were not always sufficient or conducive to developing the information into actionable criminal cases.

The Commission would like to request anyone else who has been requested to pay bribes and/or eventually paid bribes to come forward and to disclose such information to the Commission.

 Such persons who come forward and assist the Commission with its investigation will enjoy the protection of section 52 (4) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2003 dealing with the “Protection of informers and information” and which states that; -

“No action or proceedings of a disciplinary, civil or criminal nature may be instituted or maintained by any person or authority against any informer or a person who has assisted the Commission in an investigation into an alleged or suspected offence under the Anti-Corruption Act or any other law in respect of any information, other than a material statement which he or she knew or believed to be false or did not believe to be true, disclosed by him or her to the Commission for the purpose of assisting the Commission in the performance of its functions under the Anti-Corruption Act”