By Confidente Reporter
CONTROVERSY surrounds the cancellation of a N$12 million-a-year petroleum tender by the Namcor board as part of an alleged plot to dish the lucrative contract to a company owned by Walvis Bay businessman, Laurentius Julius, who is currently at the centre of a N$3,5 billion tax fraud case.
Well-placed sources that spoke to Confidente on condition of anonymity also revealed that there is alleged political interference from Ministry of Mines and Energy senior officials who are said to have interests in the contract and are pushing for Julius (40) through his company, Extreme Customs Clearing Services (XCCS), to get the tender.
Julius for the past three years has been the sole benefactor of the contract before it ended in October last year and was re-advertised shortly thereafter. It was however unceremoniously cancelled in December although two successful bidders out of 22 including XCCS were shortlisted.
The multi-million dollar tender is for the transportation and distribution of petroleum products that include petrol and diesel to Namcor’s clients countrywide.
Sources added that the tender was cancelled after senior ministry officials and some Namcor board members’ preferred bidder, XCCS, was disqualified for failing to submit a dangerous goods certificate.
“w When he was disqualified, that annoyed those on his payroll. At the time, five companies were shortlisted of which two companies were later recommended by the technical committee up to the last round. So it came as a surprise when the board ordered the tender to be cancelled,” sources said.
Julius when contacted for comment claimed that Namcor had tried to offer him an extension of the contract which he reportedly turned down. It is however not clear why he expressed interest in a tender he turned down.
“No no no, there is no such thing. We don’t drive for Namcor anymore. We withdrew our trucks last November. Namcor even offered me an extension of the contract but I turned it down. I turned it down because I was honouring the terms and conditions of the tender, and it had ended. I don’t know anyone in the board, so I don’t understand why people would spread such things.”
Sources however added that the board has no jurisdiction to cancel the tender unless there is something suspicious. “They want to give Julius another chance so that they too benefit. It still remains a surprise how the board cancelled the tender. The fact is that they want to re-advertise it and give Julius another chance. We don’t understand how they want to give someone who has a pending criminal case of N$3, 5 billion against the state a second chance.
“The world must know that these guys have their preferred candidate. Much remains to be seen as to what content will be entailed in the re-advertisement because there is no change of scope. They must tell us what is in it for them from Julius.”
Contacted for comment, Namcor’s spokesperson Utaara Hoveka confirmed that XCCS had the contract for three years until October. He also stressed that the tender was only cancelled because 60 percent of the companies that applied did not meet the requirements.
“The contract term between Namcor and XCCS for the transport tender was for a three (3) year period, and ended in October 2016. It is within the Board’s fiduciary duties to ensure that the company’s dealings are above board and in-line with international best practices. This was found to be a challenge in this particular instance, as 60 percent of the companies which applied had not met all tender specifications. They also did not have qualified drivers to transport dangerous goods.”
Hoveka added that the tender will be re-advertised within the first three months of the year.
He however rubbished claims that there is external interference in the process saying, “Namcor is an autonomous organisation operating within relevant SOE legislation, and its own internal policies. We are not aware of the alleged external interference from higher authorities.”
Meanwhile, Namcor’s board chairperson, Patrick Kauta said the allegations against the Namcor board are flawed and misconceived. “Whoever is feeding you information … you have not troubled to verify the veracity of the information. Firstly this board never had any relationship with XCCS. This board was appointed on the 1/10/2016. And XCCS wasn’t a transporter for Namcor then. On an ad hoc basis Namcor doesn’t even use XCCS. How then are they preferred by the board? It’s unfair and improper to make allegations without verification. As for the tender advertisement it’s in the best interests of Namcor to have it done yesterday (Monday).”
Julius, according to reports was arrested alongside two Chinese nationals in connection with an alleged customs duties fraud scam amounting to N$3,5 billion. They face charges of fraud and money laundering and have been incarcerated since their arrested in December until they were recently released on N$1,5 million bail each.
Reports further state that during a court appearance, a chartered accountant involved in an investigation of foreign currency transactions that was launched by the bank of Namibia early last year told the court that the equivalent of about N$3,5 billion was remitted offshore through foreign currency accounts of XCCS and Organise Freight Services from January 2013 to February 2016, in more than 1 600 transactions on behalf of more than 100 companies.
The payments were made on the basis of invoices for goods supposedly imported into Namibia at a cost of US$313 million. However, the total value for the imported goods reflected on invoices submitted to the customs authorities was about US$13 million, and about US$298 million out of the total payment of US$313 was made up by the costs of ancillary services like freight expenses.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015