Two in finance ministry VAT fraud escape jail

Two suspects who pleaded guilty in the massive  value-added tax refund scam that cost the  finance ministry close to N$35 million escaped jail last week when they were sentenced to a fine of not more than N$50 000.

 

The first accused, Eugenio Pio Do Amaral Gourgel, walked away from the case with a fine of  N$30 000 or six months in jail.

He had two years wholly suspended for five years on condition that he does not commit the same offense again.

The second accused, Paulino Manuel Natal, got slapped with a fine of N$50 000 or  risk one year in prison.

 

In addition, a sentence of four years was imposed of which three years were suspended for a period of five years.

 Natal did plead guilty to providing a forged invoice in order to claim VAT refunds from the ministry of finance.

 

He falsely claimed that he had purchased from Namibia and exported to Angola equipment to the sum of N$797 525 which entitled him to a VAT refund of N$104 025.

He however told the court that he did not benefit a cent from the company that processed their VAT returns, called Aveshe Consultancy.

 

He admitted to having also committed the same crime between September and October of 2015 whereupon he claimed refunds of N$126 819 for buying another equipment to the tune of N$972 279.

 

Natal admitted to having caused the finance ministry a potential loss of N$230 844 and asked for mercy from the court. 

He said, “Throughout my unlawful dealings I was being assisted by Mr. Paquete Americo Kapayola Jose who is accused number 11 as per the indictment. Accused number 11 is an Angolan national and he was capable of communicating with me regarding my unlawful activities.”

 

Natal is said to have been in custody for almost three years now and his defence lawyer initially pleaded with the court to fine him rather than lock him up given that he was a first-time offender and had languished in jail already. 

 

His lawyer had begged the court to let him back to his country saying that the more he stayed in a Namibian prison the more taxpayers’ money would be used to take care of him and thus had to be set free for Angola.

Gourgel had also admitted to having changed the dates of his invoice in order to claim VAT refunds from the ministry through the same consulting company.

 

The consultancy had asked him to have the company from which he had purchased equipment change the dates of purchase on his invoice so he can make the claims to the ministry.

According to the state, Gourgel paid a lady known as Anna at the company to change the dates and she too has been nabbed for fraud. 

 

He sought to claim VAT to the tune of N$27 524.74 but again, he too said he never received a cent from the consulting company. 

When he was making these claims, he knew well that he had not bought anything from Namibia to export to Angola and that the documents he used were forged.

 

His defence counsel initially pleaded with the court not lock him up but rather fine him to N$20 000.