Namibia: Fishrot Investigators Widen Net

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One of the officers investigating the infamous Fishrot scandal says the amount misappropriated by those implicated has increased to N$13o million.

Karl Cloete, a detective from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said the amount of N$103.6 million that the accused were initially charged for misappropriating has increased to N$130 million so far.

"We expect this amount to increase once we receive cooperation from the government of Iceland, Angola, Dubai and Spain where some of the money has been transferred to. At the moment, these governments have not been forthcoming. But we will keep on trying as 35% of the money that was made from this deal, was paid to entities outside the country," explained Cloete.

Cloete made the remarks when he took the witness stand in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court last week during the bail application of one of the accused, Ricardo Gustavo (44).

Gustavo, who is a former Investec Asset Management Namibia senior employee, and director of Namgomar Pesca Namibia is charged alongside former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau (61), ex-minister of justice Sacky Shanghala (42), former Investec Asset Management Namibia managing director James Hatuikulipi (44), Esau's son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi (38) and Pius 'Taxa' Mwatelulo (31).

During the hearing, it came to light that between 2012 and 2013, Namibia entered into a joint venture for horse mackerel fishery with Angola which was being represented by Namgomar SA Pesca, a sister company to Namgomar Pesca Namibia created in 2014.

Namgomar Pesca Namibia then entered into an agreement with Icelandic-owned company, Samherji, which allegedly paid more than N$100 million in kickbacks to businesspeople and politicians.

Gustavo runs Namgomar Pesca Namibia.

He is a director and only employee of the company.

The catching agreement was allegedly signed in 2014, according to Cloete.

Gustavo and his co-accused allegedly travelled to Angola in June 2014 to finalise the deal.

The agreement stipulates the company would pay N$500 per metric ton for a period of 10 years.

"During our investigations, we uncovered that the price for that particular agreement was not market-related as other companies paid N$3 000 per metric ton over a period of 10 years," said Cloete.

He further testified that the evidence at hand indicate that an amount of N$39 million was paid into Namgomar Pesca Namibia from subsidiaries. Of that amount, N$11 million was allegedly paid into Gustavo's account. Gustavo allegedly received N$3 million for the construction of his home on an estate outside of Windhoek.

An amount of N$12.1 million was allegedly transferred to Otwafika Investment.

The ACC further suspect that up to N$120 million was paid by Samherji to a company of James Hatuikulipi, Tundavala Investment, which is registered in Dubai.

Cloete, who is against Gustavo being released on bail, said there is a high risk that he will be used by his co-accused to tamper with ongoing investigations.

"We have evidence of communication directing the people in Angola to fabricate documents that they received quotas. That the fact that his co-accused have tried to get other people to tamper with investigations and steal evidence," said Cloete.

Gustavo said he earns N$1 million yearly from Namgomar Pesca Namibia and claimed the N$3 million he received from the company was a loan to refurbish his home, which he also used as the office for Namgomar Pesca Namibia.

He, however, refused to comment on the N$11 million that was also paid to his company.

Testifying in court, Gustavo said the allegations have crippled him financially and his employment with Investec Asset Management Namibia where he earned N$1.5 million annually.

"Given the magnitude of the case and being called names. Yes, I did have the opportunity to abscond but I did not. I intend to plead not guilty when the time comes. I am not guilty of the charges I am being accused off and I have never stolen anything in my life," testified Gustavo.

Gustavo further informed the court that he needs to be given an opportunity to provide for his family which has suffered due to his incarceration and allegations levelled against him.

Gustavo said that should the court grant him bail; he is in the position to pay N$100 000 for his release from custody.

Gustavo and his co-accused are facing counts of fraud, bribery, corruptly using office for gratification, money laundering and conspiring to commit corruption.

The bail hearing continues today.

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