Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Namibia: Namcor Targets Accountant in N$2,2 Million Fraud

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NAMCOR has laid fraud, theft and uttering charges against a suspended accountant for the loss of N$2,2 million, as well as for diverting N$182 000 meant for suppliers into his bank account.

The case number against the accountant, who was suspended on 2 July last year, is CR130.07/2018.

The Namibian reported two weeks ago that Namcor deposited N$2,2 million meant for Malaysian company Hyrax Oil into an Estonian bank account after receiving an email purportedly from the company advising Namcor about a change of banking details. Hyrax Oil won the tender to supply Namcor with lubricants in 2017.

The accountant, who cannot be named because he has not been arrested, was the trading and partner distribution, financial accountant. His job involved processing payments, and he had access to the online system which allowed him to view accounts, add new beneficiaries, and edit details.

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A statement of oath written by Jennifer Hamukwaya, Namcor’s executive: strategic finance and procurement, said the alleged fraud was discovered on 2 July 2018 by an assistant accountant for trading and distribution, Martha Shikongo.

In her statement, Hamukwaya asked the Financial Intelligence Centre to assist Namcor in investigating the fraudulent payment to Hyrax Oil.

Hamukwaya claimed that the accountant knew about the wrongly banked N$2,2 million for two weeks, but did not inform the executive: strategic finance and procurement, about it.

The accountant, she added, was part of the transaction process involving the payment of N$2,2 million to Hyrax Oil.

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Hamukwaya said the accountant allegedly also transferred, into his Bank Windhoek account, N$182 000 meant to pay the agriculture ministry (N$16 456), the Receiver of Revenue (N$44 354) and Engen Namibia (N$121 095) between 11 May and 6 June last year.

Before any payment is made, the assistant accountant prepares the requisition, which should also be checked by the line manager. The documents, Hamukwaya explained, are then forwarded to the financial accountant to log onto the online banking system to verify suppliers’ details. From the financial accountant, the documents go to the financial manager, who checks and signs off the requisition.

Although eight people can sign off the payments, any two can do so at any one time, Hamukwaya stated, further alleging that the accountant forged the assistant accountant and financial manager’s signatures.

“He then took the documents to authorised signatories Ms Maryke Kröhne, executive: human resources, and executive IT, Mr Bonny Konjore, for signatures,” Hamukwaya continued.

The accountant allegedly also failed to locate supporting documents for the Engen Namibia payment.

“These documents have been requested several times by the assistant accountant, Ms Martha Shikongo. However, the accountant refused to submit them.

“I further alerted Bank Windhoek, where they advised that Namcor opens a criminal case for their forensics department to investigate (the issue) fully,” Hamukwaya stated.




Hamukwaya yesterday said she is not allowed to talk to the media.

“I am not allowed to talk to the press, but I cannot deny nor confirm at this point. Can you not speak to our public relations officer?” she asked.

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A leaked excerpt from a PwC executive summary of an investigation report conducted on behalf of Namcor says the domain name namcor.na.com instead of namcor-na.com was created on 19 May 2018, while that of hryaxoil.com instead of hyraxoil.com was created on 20 May 2018.

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PwC said the owner of the domain opted to mask the data, and can therefore not be identified.

“Thus, we could not establish any other information regarding the domain names mentioned above,” PwC said.

The executive summary also said the accountant’s laptop had Hyrax Oil documents which appeared to have been amended.

“We could not establish the purpose of the various documents obtained from the imaged laptop relating to the Hyrax Oil payment,” PwC further said, adding that the accountant could have emailed a confidential Hyrax report to an unknown source and person who is not a Namcor employee. In his incident report to the board dated 6 June 2018, Namcor managing director Immanuel Mulunga said someone changed the emails of Hyrax Oil and Namcor officials after intercepting emails from the two companies. Mulunga said the finance department requested Hyrax Oil on 19 March 2018 to send banking details on letterhead to allow the processing of payment. On 22 March, he said, Namcor prepared payment to the value of N$1,9 million, but Standard Bank finance requested Namcor to make another balance of payment in foreign currency since the account was of a foreign bank.

When Namcor’s finance department requested Hyrax Oil to send another tax invoice in foreign currency, they were also given new banking details. Standard Bank, according to Mulunga, sent proof of payment to Namcor on 3 April after the company had transferred €134 678 on 27 March. The proof was sent to Hyrax Oil, which then alerted Namcor that they had not received any payment. Mulunga added that Hyrax Oil discovered that the money was paid into the Estonian account with the CIMB Bank Berhad of Malaysia. At the same time, he said, Namcor found that the emails had been spoofed.

“In essence, the emails used in the correspondence between Hyrax Oil and Namcor were correct up to the point where Namcor requested for an invoice denominated in foreign currency,” Mulunga explained.

Efforts to recover the money with the assistance of Standard Bank and the Commerzbank Am Main Frankfurt failed.

Mulunga this week said the fraud seems to have been “well-orchestrated”.

“It is clear that this was a well-orchestrated fraud on Namcor, and those who are involved took advantage of the hype that was created around the legitimate lubricant transaction with Hyrax in 2017,” he added.

Mines minister Tom Alweendo last week gave the Engelhardt Kongoro-led Namcor board until today to answer questions regarding the lost N$2, 2 million.

Alweendo told The Namibian that he had asked the board to give all the details of what happened, and how it happened.




“Since I believe that this happened last year already, I also asked the board to tell me what they did in terms of accountability, in other words, was anyone held accountable, and how?” the minister said.

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