Namibia: Ex-Ministers, Co-Accused Behind Bars

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(File photo).
28 November 2019

Windhoek — Former cabinet ministers Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala, as well as four others implicated in the high-profile Fishrot Files kickback scandal, are expected to appear in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court today following their arrest yesterday.

Esau and a suspended senior manager at Investec Asset Management Namibia, Ricardo Gustavo, were rearrested yesterday, while Shanghala, Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi, James Hatuikulipi and a certain Pius Natangwe Mwatelulo were arrested for the first time yesterday.

Shanghala and James Hatuikulipi were arrested on their farm in the Dordabis area a day after arriving from Cape Town.

A seventh arrest involving their farmworker was reportedly also carried out, after he allegedly attempted to block officials of the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Namibian police from entering the farm.

The seven are being kept at a police station outside Windhoek, according to police sources.

Namibian police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga confirmed the arrests to New Era yesterday. The arrests are in connection with an investigation of corruption and alleged bribery implicating the ex-ministers and their associates allegedly involving N$150 million.

"Yes we have arrested all of them, six of them, including a seventh who was arrested for obstructing the cause of justice, we have 48 hours to question and to charge them, maybe tomorrow they will appear in court," Ndeitunga said briefly.

An Icelandic fishing company, Samherji, reportedly secured access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia by paying bribes of around N$150 million to politicians and businessmen between 2012 and 2018. Mike Nghipunya, who heads the state-owned Fishcor company with its headquarters at Lüderitz, is also named in the scandal.

According to media reports, Samherji's CEO and biggest shareholder, Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, authorised the bribe payments.

Earlier this week, ACC director-general Paulus Noa said the commission since the beginning of this month has been investigating allegations of conspiracy to commit corrupt practices, corruption, bribery, money laundering, tax evasion and related crimes. He said the allegations as reported by the whistleblower implicated Esau, Shanghala, Gustavo, James and Tamson Hatuikulipi, as well as companies owned by the accused.

He said the investigation established that the agreement on cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture entered between the government and the Angolan government did not benefit the ordinary citizens and or contribute to the economy as by the terms of the agreement.

"ACC's investigations revealed that companies owned by some of the suspects or proxies were used as conduit to facilitate payments of millions of dollars into other bank accounts of companies linked to the suspects," he said.

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