Fishrot: NGO piles pressure on Icelandic govt

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Fishrot: NGO piles pressure on Icelandic govt

A global organisation has come out strongly in support of the finalisation of the Fishrot investigation and prosecution of suspects by calling the Icelandic government to find funding and provide the prosecuting office with everything it needs to complete the case as soon as possible.

Head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) working group on bribery Drago Kos says it is almost embarrassing for Iceland for the Namibian authorities to pull the cart in an investigation into the Samherji case. 

However, he states that he does not underestimate any country. The group has been following the progress of the case and is now demanding an answer from the Icelandic authorities due to police intervention by journalists.

Kos said he could hardly believe that the district prosecutor’s office was underfunded in a prosperous country like Iceland. 

OECD’s comments come weeks after the Institute for Public Policy Research and Transparency International called on the two prosecuting authorities in Namibia and Iceland to cooperate and hold the Fishrot corruption scandal accomplices accountable.

IPPR and Transparency International expressed the hope that a visit by prosecutor general Martha Imalwa and deputy director general of the Anti-Corruption Commission Erna van der Merwe with Icelandic investigators and prosecutors would augur well for possible cooperation in the transnational criminal investigation. 

According to Kos, it is a bit embarrassing for Iceland that Namibia is the country that pulls the strings in the study. 

“It is not to the credit of the Icelandic government,” he said. 

Kos says, however, that he understands that an investigation of this magnitude can take time and that he does not request information about anything that could spoil the research interests. 

The broad lines of the case need to be known, he said.

“However, this oppressive silence is a problem.

I can only see that no one knows what is going on in Iceland. We know all about what is happening in Namibia. I believe that this is one of the biggest problems for the Icelandic authorities,” he said. 

IPPR and Transparency International said citizens of both countries have expressed, through public protests, news investigations and civil society efforts, that it cannot be right that only Namibian citizens are held legally accountable for Fishrot, when the corruption scandal clearly involves individuals in Iceland as well. 

Ten suspects, including former Cabinet ministers Sackey Shanghala and Bernhardt Esau, are in custody and awaiting trial. 

They are facing more than 40 counts, including racketeering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft and money laundering, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

The Namibian prosecutors have also named three Icelandic nationals who are needed to appear in a local court with the Namibian suspects over their alleged involvement in the Fishrot scandal.  The three are yet to be charged in Iceland.