10 April 2018

Namibia: Geingob Strongly Denies Involvement in Corruption

Photo: The Namibian
President Hage Geingob.(file photo).

Namibian President Hage Geingob has strongly denied corruption accusations stemming from a French anti-corruption probe centered on the purchase of Canadian mining company Uramin by French nuclear giant Areva.

A letter to Radio France Internationale from lawyers for the president strongly denies that the president, or the government of Namibia, had anything to do with the case.

"The alleged corruption concerns the conduct of Areva and/or Uramin and do not implicate Dr. Geingob or the government of the republic of Namibia," the president's lawyer, Sisa Namandje, said in a letter.

Namandje also explained that any sums paid to Geingob were for "advisory work at Uramin", not by Areva, undertaken before his appointment as commerce and industry minister in 2008.

The letter also adds that the advisory work for Uramin was carried out when the president was a parliamentary backbencher and that the services he provided were listed in the Parliamentary Asset Register in accordance with the law.

The takeover of Uramin by Areva "was done without the knowledge or participation of Dr Geingob in any way", Nemandje added. "The alleged corruption therefore relates to the conduct of the owners of Areva and/or Uramin and has nothing to do with Dr Geingob or the Government of the Republic of Namibia".

"There is no link between the additional costs of the transaction between Areva and Uramin, and the services delivered by (Geingob's) HG Consultants," wrote Namandje.

Renamed Orano at the beginning of this year, the Areva group spent € 1.8 billion euros to acquire Uramin and its three uranium deposits in Namibia, South Africa and the Central African Republic in 2007.

However, problems in the mining sector in the three countries turned the purchase into a financial disaster.

As a result Areva made provisions for a €1.5-billion-euro writedown at the end of 2011, roughly the price of the initial transaction.

French investigators subsequently opened a probe into the affair.

Former Areva chief Anne Lauvergeon was implicated for having allegedly submitted inaccurate accounts intended to hide the collapse in the value of Uramin.

The former director of the group's mining operations, Sébastien de Montessus, is also being sued for alleged corruption.

Geingob, 76, was prime minister of Namibia between 1990-2002 and 2012-2015 before becoming president in 2015.

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