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Fishrot: PG in firing line

2023-10-03  Maria Sheya

Fishrot: PG in firing line

THE Namibian registered companies which were run by Icelandic executives and are at the centre of the Fishrot bribery case, have come out guns blazing at the Prosecutor General as she tries to advance her case for assets seizure. 

Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa is asking the court to grant her the opportunity to file additional documents explaining the status of the extradition process of the Icelandic executives Ingvar Juliusson, Egill Helgi Arnason, and Adelsteinn Helgason  - for their alleged illegal dealings in their personal capacities and on behalf of Esja Holding, Mermaria Seafood Namibia, Saga Seafood, Heinaste Investment, Saga Investment, and Esja Investment  - and what has caused the delay in the process.

Imalwa also wants an opportunity to shed some light on how evidence was obtained and handled from Iceland and handed over to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). Imalwa has acknowledged that there have been delays in finalising the state’s formal extradition request to Iceland to have the executives extradited to Namibia where they will answer for their alleged crimes.

However, the lawyer representing companies, Raymond Heathcote yesterday informed the court that Imalwa is trying to patch up her case. 

“Almost three years later, the foreign directors have still not been extradited and the Namibian companies have still not been arraigned in the pending criminal proceedings against the other accused,” said Heathcote.

He said Imalwa’s late application is an abuse of court processes which does not answer pertinent questions such as why she has not charged the companies when they are based in Namibia, why the foreign directors were joined to the restraint application when they do not have any assets in the country and what additional assets would be attached as a result of her filling an additional affidavit.

“How then will a ‘status report’ on the ‘pending’ extradition, assist this court to determine the pending restraint application? In fact, on her own version, the extradition proceedings have not even commenced,” said Heathcote.

He further said Imalwa cannot after more than two years and at a time of her choosing introduce additional affidavits when she has not even located the foreign executives.

“She still does not know where the foreign directors are, she has still not commenced with extradition proceedings and she has still not criminally charged the defendants despite arguing that this court does indeed have jurisdiction over the defendants (companies),” argued Heathcote.

He said Imalwa’s update on the case she presented in her founding papers will advance her case further. Furthermore, Imalwa refused to explain her extradition issues when she refused the opportunity for her to be cross-examined.

But according to Imalwa’s lawyer,Wim Trengove, the companies would not suffer any prejudice and the companies were the reason for the late filing of the documents.

“The progress of the extradition application formed the basis of their meritless application for a referral to oral evidence. It caused a delay in the restraint proceedings of 15 months,” said Trengove. He said Imalwa had to wait for the court to deal with the companies’ application for oral evidence before she could launch hers.

“The court must not close its eyes to the fact that the foreign directors still steadfastly refuse to submit to the jurisdiction of the Namibian courts or even to disclose their current residential addresses, both of which would considerably hasten the conclusion of proceedings against them,” said Trengove.

The lawyer said, “given the history of the case, there is no substantial reason why the court should refuse Imalwa’s request”.

“Their true complaint appears to be that they feel they have lost a tactical advantage in the face of a procedural shortcoming in the PG’s evidence which she acknowledged at the time the evidence was put up,” Trengove said.

He said in the interest of justice and proper administration, the court should grant
Imalwa’s request.

Windhoek High Court judge Orben Sibeya will give a ruling on 23 October.

2023-10-03  Maria Sheya

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