15 February 2013

Namibia: Metcalfe Accused of Conflict

LAWYER Richard Metcalfe has been reported to the Law Society of Namibia for alleged conflict of interest by a fishing joint venture for which he did work at one stage.

Hefdy Group of Companies, a joint venture of new fishing rights holders, claims that Metcalfe did work for it but has now been hired by a shareholder company which wants to pull out of the venture.

The Namibian is in possession of receipts for money paid to Metcalfe for legal work he did for Hefdy.

The lawyer has now been hired by Human Capital Fishing, one of the shareholders in the Hefdy joint venture.

Hefdy claims that Metcalfe obtained privileged information about the company when he worked for them and now is using that in his fight against the joint venture.

Human Capital Fishing is one of the companies that was grouped together by the Ministry of Fisheries in the 'shotgun marriages' arranged by the ministry.

Internal squabbles in Human Capital have caused shareholders to vent their anger at each over who they should partner with to do business.

Due to the squabbles, Metcalfe stepped in to represent Bertha Kadhila and Suama Kapolo, shareholders who have 60% shares in Human Capital Fishing.

As part of his strategy, Metcalfe has accused Hefdy of not being registered in terms of the Companies Act.

"We again reiterate that Hefdy is still not a registered company. The minutes of its so-called board of directors up to January 15 2012 amply reflect this legal situation," Metcalfe recently wrote on behalf of Kadhila and Kapolo.

Raimo Naanda, the husband of Irma Naanda, a 40% shareholder in Human Capital, yesterday accused Metcalfe of conflict of interest because the lawyer initially worked with Hefdy, the same company he is accusing of irregularities now.

Sources say Meltcalfe might have had access to company information which he is now using against Hefdy.

"Now Metcalfe has turned against Hefdy, providing misleading information about the deal Hefdy has clinched with Pacific Andes [a Chinese company]. I see this as a serious conflict of interest on the part of Metcalfe Attorneys," Naanda said.

The Chinese company paid Hefdy N$24 million for catching its horse mackerel quota of 100 000 tons in 2012.

Metcalfe yesterday confirmed that he worked for Hefdy last year but denied claims of conflict of interest, saying: "An attorney is like a mercenary. We work for money and not loyalty."

He said lawyers do not owe the person they are working for. "Once we are done, that's where it ends."

Metcalfe denied allegations that he had access to other Hefdy documents, saying he gets his information from the shareholders he represents.

A legal source The Namibian spoke to said there is no rule that stops a lawyer from doing what Metcalfe did, it just depends on the ethics of the lawyer.

Hefdy consists of five individual companies that were allocated fishing rights in 2011, namely Human Capital Fishing, Egongelo Fishing Company, Fibresha Investment, Dorado Fishing Enterprises and Young Rangers Fishing.

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