Finance ministry employees nabbed for bribery

No bail

19 February 2020 | Crime

Maggy Shinyagaya; Prosecutor; “We fear that the suspects may interfere with police investigations...”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]

Two employees of the department of Inland Revenue of the ministry of finance in Walvis Bay appeared in the town’s magistrate court on Wednesday for corruptly using their office for personal gratification and receiving a bribe.

The accused, Daleen Denise Damens (36) and Melanie Olga Claasen (43), appear to have solicited a N$20 000 bribe from a taxpayer yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon.

The money was recovered and the two were arrested. Claasen is a senior taxation officer and Damens a taxation officer.
According to a statement by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the two allegedly solicited a bribe of N$100 000 from a taxpayer in exchange for altering and or manipulating the taxation system in favour of the taxpayer.

“It is alleged that the taxpayer could not afford the N$100 000 as requested and instead offered to pay N$20 000. ACC officials in Swakopmund organised a sting operation and arrested the two accused. The N$20 000 bribe money which was given to them, was found on their person.”

ACC chief public relations officer, Josefina Nghituwamata, said it appears that some taxation officials make bribe payment demands to some company owners who are in debt with Inland Revenue.

“These employees then promise to cancel Inland Revenue debts and thereafter credit accounts to claim back money from Inland Revenue for these businesses to be in good standing. This is a clear demonstration of the embezzlement of state finances.”

An ACC source informed the commission that this was not the first time the suspects demanded a bribe in exchange for beneficial treatment from the tax office.

“This incident is a clear indication that all files previously handled by the two suspects must be scrutinized.”

Both Claasen and Damens are charged with contravening of Section 35 (1) (a) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2003 (Act No.8 of 2003), for directly or indirectly, corruptly soliciting or accepting or agreeing to accept from any person a gratification as an inducement to do or to omit doing anything in relation to the affairs or business of the agent's principal.

During court proceedings, the state opposed bail on the grounds that investigations are still at an early stage.

“We fear the suspects will interfere with police investigations, since documents have already been destroyed by the accused pertaining to their case. At the same time we fear that the suspects will also interfere with state witnesses,” prosecutor Maggy Shinyagaya said.

Magistrate Vicky Nicolaidis postponed the case to 27 February for a formal bail application. Until then the accused remain behind bars.

Ray Rukoro represented the accused.

The ACC says it is concerned that despite actions taken to clamp down on corruption, some officials, ministries and public companies do not take disciplinary action against suspected officials or inordinately delay disciplinary proceedings.

“In some instances, the rogue officials are promoted to higher ranks while bribery and corruption offenses are pending against them. Such moral decay does not only demoralize whistle-blowers and corruption investigators, but also creates a culture of impunity in the public sector. Fighting corruption is a collective responsibility, therefore, it is incumbent upon all administrative institutions to effectively play their share of responsibility in the fight against all forms of corruption,” Shinyagaya concluded.

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