Namibia: Imalwa Confirms International Offers to Tighten Fishrot Probe

PROSECUTOR general Martha Imalwa has confirmed that international agencies have offered to assist Namibia in investigating and prosecuting the Fishrot corruption case.

However, Anti-Corruption Commission director general Paulus Noa has refused to comment on whether he has taken up that offer. Sources said the ACC allegedly turned down the offer to get investigative assistance.

The Namibian reported on Friday that stakeholders in the Fishrot investigation decided to enlist assistance from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) affiliated with Interpol.

These institutions offered experts to be seconded to the case and equipment to assist with the investigations.

"Please contact the organisations you just mentioned to furnish you with information on their offer and what was rejected and by whom," Noa told The Namibian.

"They may share with you their documents of offer and the rejection letter, if any," the ACC boss said.

The prosecutor general's office, the Namibian police, the Financial Intelligence Centre and the Ministry of Justice were all represented at the meeting when the ACC told representatives of the said bodies that their investigation assistance was not needed.

This is said to have angered a number of those present.

Noa has in the past months complained about the lack of funding to investigate the Fishrot case. Some people familiar with the matter said Noa's failure to get international investigative expertise could weaken the case.

Prosecutor general Imalwa confirmed yesterday that "the offers were from international law enforcement agencies".

She added that the offer extends to Namibian law enforcement agencies and institutions such as the ACC.

"It all depends on the individual office needs. From the prosecution technical aspect, we are working with international partners on the case. It's not only the Fishrot case but many other cross-border prosecutions," she said.

The PG has admitted that they will work on measures to update the public on the case to avoid unsubstantiated speculation that the case is getting cold.

Several Namibians involved in the scandal have been arrested, including former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau, his son-in-law Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala and Mike Nghipunya, the former chief executive of the national fishing company, Fishcor.

Two top former managers of a Namibian branch of the South African investment fund Investec - James Hatuikulipi, the firm's former managing director for asset management (and Tamson Hatuikulipi's cousin), and the firm's former head of client management, Ricardo Gustavo - were also arrested for their alleged involvement in the corruption scheme.

Altogether, they are charged with depriving the Namibian state of around N$175 million through alleged corruption, bribery and money laundering.

The corruption scheme is said to involve as much as N$3 billion.

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