Namibia: Gustavo Claims More People Involved in Fishrot

(File photo).
17 November 2021

Another Fishrot accused made damning allegations during his testimony yesterday in his bail application before Windhoek High Court Judge Herman Oosthuizen.

Ricardo Gustavo (45) told the court that unlike other suspects who were allowed to explain their involvement in the Fishrot scandal, he was never given such an opportunity.

"There are people walking free after giving their explanations while I'm rotting in jail for not being given the opportunity to explain my side of the story," he told the judge.

According to Gustavo, he was picked up on a Saturday afternoon with a search and arrest warrant first on 23 November 2019, and was again ordered to surrender himself at the police headquarters in Ausspanplatz on election day in 2019.

Since then, he was not informed of what he had done wrong nor was he given the opportunity to explain.

Gustavo further explained to the court he never held shares in the entity Namgomar Pesca Namibia or its holding company Namgomar Pesca Limitada that was registered in Angola.

"I was merely a director and employee of the entity in Namibia," he explained to the judge.

With regards to the catching agreement between Fishcor and Namgomar, he explained it was as a result of a bilateral agreement between the two fisheries ministries of Namibia and Angola - and that he was not involved in any of the negotiations or consultations.

He further said because the catching agreement between the two entities needed a Namibian representative, he was approached by Angolan national Jao de Barros with whom he had a "very good professional relationship" to serve as director on the Namibian subsidiary of Namgomar Pesca Limitada - to which he agreed.

Gustavo told the court he also signed the catching agreement between Esja Investment, a subsidiary of Esja Holdings, the company linked to Samerji Holdings, the main player in the Fishrot scandal.

He added he did this on instructions from the shareholders in the mother company.

He, however, told the judge he was never employed on a full-time basis for Namgomar, as he was employed by then Investec Asset Management Namibia - now Ninety-One Investments.

"My duties with Namgomar were to adhere to the fiscal and regulatory frameworks involved with the quota we, Namgomar Limitada, received from the ministry of fisheries in relation to the bilateral agreement.

"I made sure the fiscal obligations like quota fees, levies and taxes - income tax and VAT - was paid," he told Judge Oosthuizen.

According to him, he directed Namgomar Pesca Namibia to the best of his abilities and made sure records were kept of all agreements.

He further denied that Namgomar Pesca Limitada was given a 50 000 metric ton quota per year, but said the agreement was for only 50 000MT, which he said could not have caused the collapse of the fishing industry as the State is alleging.

Gustavo is facing two counts of racketeering, two counts of money laundering, four counts of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, three counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud alternatively theft, and one main count of theft.

It is alleged by the State that Gustavo benefitted with at least N$22.4 million from the Fishrot scandal.

The matter continues today, with Gustavo to be cross-examined by deputy prosecutor general Cliff Lutibezi.

He is represented by Trevor Brockerhoff, and Lutibezi is assisted by Ed Marondedze.

Gustavo and his co-accused Bernhardt Esau, Sacky Shanghala, Tamson and James Hatuikulipi, Pius Mwatelulo, Otneel Shuudifonya, Philipus Mwapopi, Mike Nghipunya and Nigel van Wyk stand accused of corruptly receiving payments to give a competitive advantage to Icelandic fishing company Samherji in securing access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.

Also on the list of people added to the charges is lawyer Marèn de Klerk.

The State is yet to extradite De Klerk from South Africa and Icelandic nationals Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Aðalsteinn Helgason.

The State alleges all the accused acted in common purpose.

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