Namibia: Fishrot Scandal Player Samherji to Exit Namibia

Preparing fish to be tinned (file photo).

An Icelandic company at the centre of the Fishrot bribery scandal said it plans to withdraw its businesses from Namibia.

The company - which described Namibians as lazy six years ago - has been trying to sell its assets in Namibia, including a N$400 million vessel which they bought with Namiibans using state sanctioned fishing quotas.

Samherji's acting chief executive Björgólfur Jóhannsson confirmed their exit in a statement issued on Friday.

"Samherji is currently de-investing its operation in Namibia but that will take some time. The process will be conducted in close dialogue with relevant authorities and in line with international standards and law," he said.

The Icleandic seafood company is accused of paying kickbacks to Namibian politicians such as former disgraced justice ministers Sacky Shanghala and fisheries minister Bernhard Esau. The politicians and their allies such as former Investec Asset Management Namibia managing director James Hatuiikulipi are now facing corruption and money laundering charges.

The questionable transactions could involve as much as N$2,5 billion.

Leaked documents by whistleblower Johaness Stefansson show that a top Samherji executive described Namibia in 2014 "as a beautiful country and good people. A small nation in a big country. A cheerful and lazy people."

Samherji's former chief executive Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson stepped down in November last year after the bribery scandal went public.

Now the company is claiming that it will implement a corporate governance and compliance system to combat corruption following the fishrot corruption scandal.

The system is expected to be implemented and running later this year.

"The new system will be part of the Samherji Group's future management structure and will cover Samherji and all its subsidiaries," Jóhannsson said.

The company's new compliance system will be based on the company's risk structure with focus on anti-corruption, economic sanctions and anti-money laundering amongst others.

The system falls under a new internal program which will require all employees to take an active part in the reassessment process of the company's values, culture and routines.

"We will implement a system for risk assessment, code of conduct and policies in the compliance system," Jóhannsson added.

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