THE bail hearing of former minister of fisheries Bernhardt Esau and Fishrot minnow Nigel van Wyk resumed this week in the Windhoek High Court before Judge David Munsu.
Esau continued his claim that he was not involved in the allocation of quotas or fishing rights and depended on his senior staff, including the then permanent secretary (now executive director) - Ulitala Hiveluah - to do the administrative work, and he would just sign off on it.
“I had in my employ several highly qualified people who advised me on various issues and I readily accepted their advice,” he told the judge when questioned about quotas he allocated during cross examination.
According to him, he was just an administrator and the real decisions were made by his senior staff. Yesterday he merely repeated those claims.
Esau was testifying during cross-examination by his lawyer Florian Beukes. He also told the court that he was not involved in the negotiations on the bilateral agreement signed between Namibia and Angola that paved the way for the establishment of Namgomar.
According to him, Namgomar was designated as the entity to deal with government’s quota by Hivelua and he just approved it. He closed his case and the State called Andreas Kanyangela from the ACC to testify.
According to Kanyangela, they have strong evidence against the Fishrot accused which will result in lengthy custodial sentences it convicted. This, he said, would induce them to either flee the country or interfere with witnesses and the investigation.
Esau and Van Wyk are asking the High Court to release them on bail on new facts after both had their previous bail applications refused.
They are charged alongside former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former Fish Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) CEO Mike Nghipunya, former Investec Namibia (now Ninety-One) CEO James Hatuikulipi, his nephew Tamson Hatuikulipi, former director of Namgomar Pesca Namibia Ricardo Gustavo, Pius Mwatelulo, Otneel Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi with several counts of fraud, racketeering, money laundering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, theft, tax evasion and their alternatives.
It is alleged that they conspired to change the Fishing Act to give unfettered access to Namibia’s rich fishing resources to international fishing conglomerate Samherji from Iceland in exchange for bribes of millions of dollars. The State claims that they received at least N$103.6 million in bribes to give a competitive advantage to Samherji in securing access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.
They are facing more than 40 counts comprising racketeering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft and money-laundering, as well as defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
Also on the list of people to be added to the charges is lawyer Marén de Klerk, who is charged as a representative of Celax Investments, which was allegedly used as the conduit to funnel millions of dollars from Fishcor to the bank accounts of the accused.
The State is yet to extradite De Klerk from South Africa, as well as Icelandic nationals Egill Helgi Arnason, Ingvar Juliusson and Helgason Adelsteinn. The main trial is set to start on 2 October before High Court Acting Judge Kobus Miller.