WINDHOEK - Charles Winston Manale, 35, yesterday afternoon pleaded guilty to 147 counts of fraud before Windhoek High Court Judge Dinnah Usiku at the Windhoek Correctional Facility High Court, but pleaded not guilty to a charge of money laundering.
According to plea explanation read into the record by his State funded lawyer, Jan Wessels, Manale tendered the plea freely and voluntarily and that he is fully aware of the consequences of the plea, namely that he can be convicted on the charges he pleaded guilty to.
Judge Usiku convicted him on the charges after State Advocate Constance Moyo indicated she accepts the guilty plea. She however said the State will proceed to prove the charge of money laundering. According to Manale, though, he was advised by Wessels that the charge of money laundering amounts to a duplication of charges, which is why he denies guilt for it.
According to the plea, Manale admitted he hatched a plan from January 2011, to defraud the estate accounts of Standard Bank where he was employed as a senior estate and trust officer responsible for the supervision of the estate and trust officers, whose duties was to receive requests for payment from beneficiaries and after verification load such requests onto the system for approval payment by him.
“From January 2011, I hatched a plan to defraud the estate accounts through a manipulation of the requests and payment system by making phony requests from the implicated estate accounts and then authorising payment of the proceeds into one Kauko Daniel Nehale’s Standard Bank account until August 2013,” he said, and continued: “After the death of Nehale and during the period from September 2013 up to December 2015, the transfer payments were made directly into my personal bank account held at First National Bank.”
He further said in facilitating such payments, he then and there gave out and pretends that such payments had been legitimate requests for payments by the intended beneficiaries yet in actual fact the payments had not been requested by the legitimate beneficiaries. He accordingly misappropriated N$5 055 563.15 through his misrepresentations which constitute the offence of fraud.
According to the plea, his responsibilities required that he be issued with a password to facilitate the release of payments to beneficiaries of estates administered by the bank as and when a request would have been loaded on the system by the estate officers whose duty it was to facilitate payments to beneficiaries.
“The estate officers who were my subordinates had their own passwords which worked in conjunction with a token issued to such estate officer in order to access the system for purposes of loading requests for payments from legitimate beneficiaries,” Manale said. He further stated the passwords were supposed to be confidential and not disclosed to any third party.
However, Manale said, as the senior officer, he would on different occasions either ask the estate officers to urgently load requests for him while he was standing at their work stations or would request their passwords and token to facilitate the loading of requests for payment and then proceed to authorise and release such payments.
Judge Usiku postponed the matter to October 22 and 23 for arguments on the remaining charge of money laundering and extended Manale’s warning until then.