Ghost companies drain more than N$100 Million from Namibia

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

In a groundbreaking revelation, Namibia’s Revenue Agency (Namra) Commissioner, Sam Shivute, exposed a syndicate of ‘ghost companies’ orchestrating the illicit transfer of more than N$100 million out of the country.

“Last year, our investigation team picked out a syndicate that we call ghost companies. You find people who would register a business with Bipa, but before they register the business, they would go to disadvantaged people in villages and informal settlements and get people’s identification documents, promising those people social grants,” Shivute.

He revealed the depth of the illicit activities, citing an example of ghost companies exploiting unsuspecting Namibians. These entities, registered with individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, were found channelling funds out of Namibia within 72 hours, sometimes through South Africa.

“As these companies are getting tenders or getting money, this money doesn’t even spend 72 hours in the country before it’s transferred out, sometimes through South Africa. We are talking about more than N$100 million transferred out of Namibia,” Shivute explained.

Speaking at the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing between Namra and the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa) this week, Shivute emphasised the critical issue of beneficial ownership, shedding light on the detrimental impact on Namibia’s economy.

“The issue of beneficial ownership is very critical because of late we have seen that sometimes we may have a business registered at Bipa, but those indicated as directors or owners are not the beneficiaries, and that has a negative impact on the economy of Namibia,” he stressed. In addition, Shivute outlined a visionary goal for seamless integration between Namra and Bipa systems.

Stressing the need for automatic issuance of tax identification numbers when registering a business with Bipa.

The memorandum, signed between the two institutions from January 25 to February 1, signifies a commitment to collaborative efforts in addressing this critical issue.

“The vision is to ensure that when one registers their business with Bipa, you must be in a position to have a tax identification number automatically,” Shivute stated. Moreover, Shivute expressed his satisfaction with the MoU’s conclusion but emphasised that it goes beyond mere formality. Working committees will be appointed to give practical meaning to the understanding, ensuring relevant information sharing and combating abuse.

“We are going to ensure that the working committees are appointed, and they will work hard to give meaning to this memorandum of understanding so that we can make sure of what we want to achieve,” Shivute affirmed.

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