Namibia: Samherji Apologises for Conduct in Namibia

Preparing fish to be tinned (file photo).

The chief executive officer (CEO) of the Icelandic fishing giant Samherji yesterday issued an apology for the company's conduct in Namibia between 2014 and 2019.

The apology comes days after the United States (US) banned former minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernhard Esau and ex-minister of justice Sacky Shanghala from entering the country due to allegations of corruption.

The US state department announced it would continue using sanctions to promote the accountability of corrupt actors globally.

Samherji CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson in his apology said he is responsible for allowing the activities that took place in Namibia.

"I am very sorry that this happened, and I sincerely apologise to all those involved, both personally and on behalf of the company. Now it's important to ensure that nothing like this happens again. We will certainly strive for that," he said.

Baldvinsson, however, stood by his word that other than Jóhannes Stefánsson, the former CEO of Samherji's operations in Namibia, no one else at the company has been charged with criminal offences committed in Namibia.

He acknowledged that mistakes were made during the registration of the company's international ship in the Faroe Islands, which is alleged to have been used to avoid paying employee income tax in Namibia.

The alleged tax evasion is believed to involve 14 Icelandic fishermen who were working in Namibia in 2016 but were registered as employees of Samherji's subsidiary cargo vessel on the Faroe Islands.

"The details of these discrepancies have not been fully mapped out yet, but Samherji has paid an insurance amount that will be available when the case has been finalised. We want to correct the mistakes that were made in the Faroe Islands and apologise for them. Hopefully, a more detailled conclusion will soon be reached regarding this matter," he said.

Three Samherji executives are wanted to appear in a Namibian court on allegations of bribery and corruption in the Fishrot scandal involving more than N$3 billion.

They are Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Adalsteinn Helgason.

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