Accused finance employees to hear fate today
Bail application launched
04 March 2020 | Crime
Walter Kurz; ACC; “We suspect that there may be other companies who went through similar circumstances.”
Two employees of the ministry of finance’s Inland Revenue department will hear their fate today (Wednesday).
Taxation officers Melanie Claasen (43) and Daleen Damens (35) were arrested for using their office for their own gratification and for soliciting a bribe from a tax payer.
The two were arrested last week at the ministry for allegedly soliciting a N$20 000 bribe from a local company whose account was in arrears with the ministry. They applied for bail shortly thereafter.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) suspects that the accused solicited bribes from three other companies as well.
According to ACC investigation officer Walter Kurtz who testified for the State on Monday, another Walvis Bay-based company has come forward with similar accusations against the two. “The company says that Damens solicited the bribe from them and that Claasen was aware that her colleague was soliciting a bribe because they sit in one office and in close proximity of each other,” Kurtz told the court.
He added that there is also someone from a company in Swakopmund that said that the two ladies contacted them, saying that they were debt with Inland Revenue.
A company in Uis was apparently also contacted by the women, but the ACC has not had the opportunity to contact the business yet.
Kurtz said that the two statements obtained so far from companies in Walvis Bay clearly indicates that the duo was collaborating and extorting money from companies.
He added that one of the applicants stands to be prosecuted internally for providing a PIN or password to a colleague to allow her do things that were not part of her job description.
The State is opposing bail given the seriousness of the offence. During his testimony Kurz also said that possible bail conditions will not suffice.
“It’s important to keep the accused away from the office and from gaining access to their colleagues. Many of their colleagues are interested in their case which is evident by their presence in court. We also found a letter addressed to a bank, torn up and thrown in the dustbin, which creates a suspicion that they accused are capable of destroying evidence.”
Kurtz said the fact that the duo was still employed by Inland Revenue since no internal procedure has been finalised yet, will make it easy for them to access the system to alter or delete information that is crucial to this case.
He also mentioned that the whistle blower is living in fear after reporting the suspects to ACC.
In their previous appearance on Friday, Damens and Claasen maintained their innocence, saying that they never solicited a bribe from the whistle blower, and that the witness herself offered to pay them N$20 000 for unfreezing her company accounts.