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Fishrot accused to plead in December

2023-11-24  Roland Routh

Fishrot accused to plead in December

Politicians and businessmen implicated in the fishing fraud-bribery-corruption case are set to plead to the charges against them in December.

The accused were informed yesterday when they appeared in the Windhoek High Court.

Acting Judge Moses Chinhengo made the decision after several hours of consultations between the accused and their lawyers. 

Defence attorneys Milton Engelbrecht, Mbanga Siyomunji, Florian Beukes and Lucious Murorua, together with Ronald Kurz and Ricardo Gustavo, in person, assured the court they are ready to proceed with the trial.

Gustavo appeared in person after his lawyer, Trevor Brockerhoff, withdrew as his legal representative.

Engelbrecht, who is representing former Fisheries Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) CEO Mike Nghipunya, Otneel Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi told the judge he is ready to proceed.

 Siyomunji, who is representing Tamson Hatuikulipi, also said they were ready for trial. 

Former fisheries minister Bernardt Esau and former justice minister Sacky Shanghala told the court through their lawyers they are still waiting for the answer on their quest to have the government pay their legal fees, as they were members of the government when the alleged offences were committed.

Esau is represented by Florian Beukes and Shanghala by Ronald Kurz and Lucious Murorua. Kurz and Murorua further told the court they are still pursuing the payment of their fees from the frozen assets of their other clients, former chair of Fishcor James Hatuikulipi and his cousin, Pius Mwatelulo.

Nigel van Wyk, represented by Siyomunji, also secured Legal Aid. 

He has a bail application pending, together with Esau, in the High Court, with submissions to be delivered soon.

State Advocate Ed Marondedze told the Court that the State will be ready to proceed with the trial on the set date for the start of one of the biggest fraud cases in the history of Namibia. 

Gustavo, Esau, Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Mwatelulo, van Wyk, Shuudifonya and Mwapopi are charged with corruptly receiving payments of at least N$300 million to give a competitive advantage to Icelandic fishing company 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.

2023-11-24  Roland Routh

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