10 November 2017

Namibia: Schlettwein Says Paying UK Lawyers Was 'Safe' for Namibia

Photo: UNECA
Namibian Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein (file photo).

The Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein this week said in the National Assembly that it was necessary for government to pay the UK lawyers, who are contracted to represent Namibia in the genocide talks, because they proceeded with legal action against the government.

Schlettwein said this after receiving a public backlash after Treasury reportedly paid N$36 million to the lawyers without waiting for investigations for possible corrupt dealings pertaining the case.

Schlettwein added that due to the legal action taken by the lawyers, they considered it in the best interest to make the payment and thereafter to investigate the observed shortcomings.

"This was decided to avoid additional legal costs, to protect our properties in the UK against possible attachments and the avoid possible black listing of Namibia in the UK," the minister said.

According to him, the first payment made to the lawyers (N$32,119,372.08) was made through under Vote 35 through the Bank of Namibia, while the other (N$3,365,931) was paid to the UK Legal Counsel by the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation and then transferred to the Namibia High Commission in the UK.

"Prior to the payments being made the matter was referred to the Auditor General and the Anti Corruption Commission for further investigations. In addition and because of the court action being launched against the Government of Namibia the Government Attorney was instructed to approach the relevant British authority's vested with verifying the different charges invoiced by the British lawyers. This action is still continuing and the Government Attorney is ceased with the matter," Schlettwein added.

He added that all questionable matters, surrounding the issue are referred and investigated by institutions that have the legal mandate to ensure that suspect behavior is investigated and if need be, brought to book.

"We therefore want to suggest that these institutions, namely the Auditor General, the Anti Corruption Commission and the Government Attorney are tasked to finalize their investigation and report back to the National Assembly," Schlettwein added.

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