….Past dealings come to haunt him
He “failed to protect the employer’s interests by engaging and permitting his subordinates to engage in acts which were performed in bad faith, dishonestly and against the interest of the employer”. He “unlawfully and dishonestly breached the tender policy to approve tender exemptions”.
All of this‚ is contained in suspended NIP boss Augustinus Katiti’s charge sheet that lifted the lid into the grand maladministration at NIP‚ while the board believes his acts “were detriment to your employer and they disregard the accepted sound business practice and standards”.
It has been almost 15 years after the Walvis bay municipality suspended its then CEO Katiti, for failing to implement credit control policies-and now he is facing the long barrel of that gun again.
The Patriot can reveal that the NIP board under the leadership of Diina Shuuluka has formulated seven charges to which Katiti must answer in order to save his job following claims of widespread financial irregularities and insider trading.
The charges include breach of trust, failure to protect NIP’s interests, dishonesty, bringing the name of NIP into disrepute and wrongful withdrawal of cash/investment on more than one occasion.
The Patriot has learnt of a well-crafted conspiracy involving several members of NIP’s management team and a private firm called ST Freight Services which benefited handsomely from the parastatal.
NIP’s leadership “wrongfully awarded a tender to the company”.
Katiti, according to the charge sheet, in August 2016 approved and granted exemption from the tender process of the procurement of IT infrastructure and NIP’s specimen transportation logistics management programme from health facilities in the northern regions.
He also authorised the company Head of Finance Cleophas Mbahijona to appoint suppliers or service providers to implement the project.
“Whilst being fully aware that you have no authority to grant and approve exemptions from the tender process in respect of procurement expenditure in excess of N$1 million, you unlawfully, dishonestly and in breach of the tender policy and procedure approved or purportedly approved tender process exemptions and authorised the CFO to procure services from and approve expenditures in relation to specimen transportation logistics by ST Freight Services CC in excess of N$1 million without having requisite authority in terms of the delegation of powers guidelines,” reads the charge sheet.
A month later, NIP and ST Freight penned a memorandum of understanding which subsequently opened NIP purse for ST Freight.
NIP approved an invoice of N$1.9 million from ST Freight which was used by the private company to purchase four vehicles that were used to provide transportation services to NIP at a further fee.
The board is particularly worried over the fact that the vehicles were not registered in the name of NIP, further indicating that NIP paid ST Freight “with full knowledge that ST Freight Services was not entitled to receive the payment from NIP.”
“From October 2016 to March 2017 you and your aforesaid subordinates negotiated and approved payment in the sum of N$211 600 per month in favour of ST Freight Services, for payment for its rent, remunerations, insurance, admin and sundries, totalling N$1.3 million and above your authority and/or without agreement between ST Freight services and NIP,” the charge sheet further states.
The board said Katiti’s actions in this matter “caused NIP to be defrauded by ST Freight Services” which resulted in “NIP suffering financial prejudice in the sum of N$3.1 million”.
According to the charge sheet, ST Freight pocketed at least N$7.6 million from its dealings with NIP.
Katiti also landed in hot water for spending millions to procure furniture for NIP’s head office without following due procedures, the charge sheet indicates.
On 31 March 2016, Katiti and his team of management members presented to the board seeking approval for the company to spend at least N$11 million to procure the furniture.
The request was declined at the time because the board meeting had no quorum.
Weeks later, the company’s Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer Jennifer Kauapirura presented to the company’s tender committee that the executive committee approved the final quotation to procure furniture from Roma Kitchens in South Africa for N$5.6 million and requested exemption of the same from the tender committee.
“The Tender Committee declined to grant exemption on the premise that the Executive Committee has already approved the said procurement,” the charge sheet reads.
A further exemption was granted by Katiti to allocate N$1.9 million to provide material as well as supervise the joinery project “to maintain consistency and uniformity.”
The board also accused Katiti of dishonesty after he allegedly exploited the absence of a board at the company to establish and approve three positions on the staff establishment of the company.
The positions were those of General Assistant; Analysis Manager and a Business Improvement and Administrative, Training and Organisational Officer.
“Thereafter you and your subordinates caused the recruitment and appointment of the employees the aforesaid positions, without the positions being approved by the board and budgeted for in contravention of the Delegation Policy and recruitment and selection policy.”
He is also accused of approving the withdrawal of N$10 million in November 2017 from NIP’s Unit Trust Investment held at Old Mutual.
In June 2017, he approved another withdrawal of N$7. 9 million from the same trust without board approval.
Katiti’s legal team
Following Katiti’s suspension last month, his legal team Metcalfe Attorneys on the 19th June wrote to Shuuluka saying his client was suspended “unceremoniously and without substantive reason”.
He also claimed that Shuuluka has a “very personal conflict of interest pertaining to Mr. Katiti”.
Metcalfe said Katiti provided a full and comprehensive reply with full disclosure of all information requested after an internal audit report was carried out which made several allegations against him.
“It has been discerned from investigations by the writer that the decision to suspend Mr. Katiti was presaged upon informal discussions by some board members prior to 17 May 2018.
Some explanations by the proponents of Mr. Katiti’s suspension is required when our client is suspended some eight months after the Internal Audit Report was presented to the Board of Directors.
It is obvious that some ulterior motive exist for such suspension,” said Metcalfe.
Katiti was send on suspension with at least eight conditions that ranges from handing over all NIP properties, being available when called upon, not leaving Windhoek during working hours without permission from the board chair.
According to the suspension letter, he is also banned from talking to the media as well as from visiting NIP’s headquarters without authorization.
After Katiti’s suspension, the board also suspended Chief Operations Officer Harold Kaura, business development executive Jennifer Kauapirura and Chief Financial Officer Cleophas Mbahijova.