Namibia: Fishrot Son-in-Law

Fitty Hatuikulipi (39) bought at least 15 properties in Namibia for N$40 million from 2014 to 2019 after marrying Esau's daughter Ndapandula in 2011.

THE SON-IN-LAW

Fitty Hatuikulipi (39) bought at least 15 properties in Namibia for N$40 million from 2014 to 2019 after marrying Esau's daughter Ndapandula in 2011.

The couple's 2011 antenuptial contract shows they are married out of community of property.

In a document seen by The Namibian, Fitty declared in 2011 that he owned two properties: One in Cimbebasia in Windhoek valued at around N$1,5 million and another at Walvis Bay valued at N$650 000.

The rest of his assets were vehicles: A N$800 000 Mercedes C63 AMG, a 2011 model Golf 6 GTI worth N$360 000, and a 2005 Toyota Hilux valued at N$160 000.

In November 2011, Fitty met Jóhannes Stefánsson, then a Samherji executive who subsequently turned whistleblower, at the Hilton Hotel in Windhoek.

According to Stefánsson, Fitty showed him a photograph of himself with the minister's daughter on his iPad to indicate he was someone worth doing business with.

This encounter, Stefánsson said, led to more meetings and deals with Samherji's bosses.

Stefánsson said he paid Fitty around N$700 000 for securing a meeting between his father-in-law and Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, Samherji's chief executive officer at the time, in 2012.

As Samherji's payments to Fitty for 'fixing' services increased in 2014, he became something of a property investor.

PROPERTY BOOM

Fitty Hatuikulipi's affidavit provided in court during his bail hearing last week shows his wealth grew to include 22 properties valued at N$36,8 million.

This includes seven properties in Windhoek, six at Ongwediva, three at Swakopmund, two at Gobabis, one at Langstrand near Walvis Bay, two at Ondangwa and one at Eenhana.

The rest of his assets are vehicles with an overall value of N$12 million: Two Mercedes-Benzes, two Range Rovers, five Toyota pick-ups, one Amarok pick-up, and a Toyota Corolla.

Deed documents show Fitty's properties include eight plots in the Oshana region (six at Ongwediva and two at Ondangwa) bought between 2014 and 2018, with a total value amounting to N$9,3 million.

He also branched out into more expensive properties in Windhoek and at the coast.

Deed documents show he bought erf 509 in Hochland Park for N$2 million in 2019 and erf 1326 for N$1,1 million in 2020.

Last year, he paid N$2,3 million for a plot at Eenhana and, in 2018, bought erf 1475 at Epako, Gobabis, for N$100 000.

MATRIMONY

Although they are married out of community of property, Fitty and his wife co-own a number of properties in Windhoek and Swakopmund.

In 2015, the couple bought erf 865 in Windhoek's Kleine Kuppe suburb for N$1 million through their company AL Investments No 5. The 720 square metre property is under a N$4,5 million bond.

Since 2017, Fitty and Ndapandula have spent more than N$3 million on acquiring erven at Swakopmund. This includes erf 2788 - bought for N$1,3 million in August 2017. It is divided into 12 sections and makes up the Swakopmund Lofts. James Hatuikulipi owns unit 4 and 12 in that complex.

Other coastal properties include erf 6111, bought for N$575 000, and erven 6112 and 6113, bought for N$573 000. These properties measure around 700 square meters each and were bought in June 2019.

The couple also owns Zebra Travel and Tours, a company with four buses estimated to be worth millions of Namibian dollars.

Ndapandula did not respond to questions The Namibian sent to her in June this year.

FITTY'S KICKBACKS

Two of Fitty's close corporations - JTH Trading CC and Erongo Clearing and Forwarding CC - received close to N$70 million from Icelandic fishing group Samherji between 3 May 2014 and 6 June 2019.

The payments were made by Saga Seafood Pty Ltd and Mermaria Seafood Pty Ltd, subsidiaries of Samherji, which bribed top officials for quotas.

An investigation by The Namibian found that N$27 million was paid by Mermaria Seafood Pty Ltd to JTH Trading CC in a little more than three years - from 3 May 2014 to 28 August 2017.

JTH Trading CC was also paid N$20,1 million by Saga Seafood Pty Ltd. The payments, which are now suspected to be bribes, were made between March 2018 and June 2019.

In addition, N$19 million was paid to Erongo Clearing and Forwarding CC by Mermaria.

GENTLEMEN IN BUSINESS

Sacky Shanghala's property portfolio is largely linked to James Hatuikulipi's assets through Cambadara Trust and other companies.

In 2015 and 2016 Shanghala declared to parliament that he owned 50% of two property entities - Koinseb Property 16 and Olea Investment Number 9 CC.

Olea is the same company that allegedly received at least N$4,5 million in payments from Fishrot deals.

Shanghala has denied any wrongdoing and claimed he was not in charge of Olea.

Shanghala said he is the director of six companies, including one which owns erf 7000 in Klein Windhoek. The house where he lives is also in Klein Windhoek.

Sources said Shanghala was building a house at Finkenstein before his arrest.

He has a stake in Hanganeni Emona Investments, which owns private hostels at the University of Namibia.

Shanghala also declared to parliament that he fenced off communal land of an unknown size because he is waiting for land boards in the Oshikoto and Kunene regions to allocate him land.

LUANDA CONNECTION

Ricardo Gustavo was appointed as Investec Asset Management Namibia's client manager in 2013, reporting to James Hatuikulipi.

A few years later, he formed Namgomar Pesca Namibia, a company allegedly used as a front to hijack fishing quotas worth N$150 million donated by Namibia to the Angolan government.

Gustavo is now accused of facilitating kickbacks worth more than N$120 million to an account in Dubai for the private benefit of his former boss.

Court papers suggest he was a key player in payments from the Angola fishing donation.

ACC investigator Karl Cloete told the court in May this year that Gustavo received N$11 million from Namgomar Pesca Namibia.

He further said the company also paid N$3 million to a contractor who carried out renovations on Gustavo's home at Finkenstein - an exclusive housing estate east of Windhoek.

Deeds documents show Gustavo bought a property of 7 638 square metres at Finkenstein for N$2,2 million in November 2018. He also bought a 1064 square metre property in Hochland Park for N$1,7 million in the same year.

RAPID RISE

Suspended Fishcor managing director Mike Nghipunya is accused of diverting N$75,6 million from the national fishing companies to Fishrot beneficiaries.

Nghipunya told the court in June this year he had property valued at N$8 million - a Rocky Crest house valued at N$3 million and two city centre flats, which he valued at N$5 million, in Freedom Plaza across from the Hilton Hotel.

Deed documents show Nghipunya owns more.

The Namibian found that he owns four other properties not mentioned in court papers.

In 2015, Nghipunya bought a N$1,9 million house in Rocky Crest in Windhoek - this is the property he valued at N$3 million. Nghipunya paid N$900 000 in cash, while N$1 million was paid with an FNB Namibia loan.

He also bought erf 708 in Windhoek's Hakahana neighbourhood for N$160 000, and erven 2727 and 2728 at Outapi in 2019 for N$360 000 each.

In 2017, Nghipunya bought a 671 square metre erf at Omuthiya for around N$220 000.

In December 2019 - while the Fishrot scandal was unfolding and two days after he was suspended - he sold the property to his trust, Gwanyemba Investment Trust.

His rapid rise at the national fishing company raised eyebrows among industry players.

The suspended managing director's LinkedIn account shows he was a regional statistician at the National Planning Commission in 2010 and joined the fisheries ministry as an economist.

Out of the blue, he was appointed as Fishcor's chief executive officer in 2014 - the same year that Esau appointed James Hatuikulipi as chairperson of the parastatal's board.

ESAU

Esau claimed in an affidavit used in his bail hearing in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court that contrary to perceptions created by the ACC and the media, he is not corrupt.

He said he acquired both his immovable properties legally before he was appointed as fisheries and marine resources minister.

The former minister said the money in his bank account was an early pension pay-out from the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) and from the sale of cattle and other products from his farm.

He said he owns immovable property such as erf 214 in Hochland Park, Windhoek, valued at N$ 3 million, which he bought in 1996.

He also owns the farm Dakota in the Gobabis district, Omaheke region, which is valued at N$20 million and was acquired in 2002.

He also owns a Mercedes-Benz worth N$200 000, VW Amarok which cost N$250 000, a Toyota pick-up which he bought for N$100 000, and an Isuzu (pick-up) worth N$40 000. Other assets listed by Esau are a tractor valued at N$20 000, and livestock valued at N$500 000

- This article was produced by The Namibian's investigative unit with support from the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

- Fact checked by: Victoria Wolf. Additional reporting: Eliaser Ndeyanale.

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