The Affirmative Repositioning movement has vowed to pursue multinational companies and individuals involved in corrupt dealings to return looted Namibian funds.
The movement and a UK-based company, Restitution, will collaborate to return millions of allegedly stolen money through corrupt dealings.
“The people of Namibia are owed large amounts from the illegal treatment and plundering of our marine resources. This is our birthright, our national patrimony,” said AR’s Job Amupanda during a media briefing yesterday. “We have suffered from corruption and the depletion of our fisheries. The reform of our institutions is critical, but so is ensuring that money is returned so that we can address the needs of our people. Imagine what could be done to address poverty with what is possibly millions or billions of dollars owed to us?
I also believe that bringing back stolen assets can change the entire governance landscape in Namibia for the better.”
Amupanda indicated that the two organisations will explore various approaches to recover assets for the benefit of the people of Namibia in relation to assets that were stolen through the misappropriation of fishing quotas, including the Fishrot scandal.
He said since the Fishrot scandal emerged towards the end of 2019, much of the focus of the Namibian state has been criminal prosecutions.
“As we have known and can predict, these trials will take several years to conclude. A mere bail application of the accused already takes more than three months to conclude. One is also not sure if the accused will be found guilty. Lessons from the Social Security Commission corruption trial is that it is possible that only a tiny minority will be found guilty while the majority get fined or receive suspended sentences,” he continued.
Restitution said they will bring together experts in anti-corruption and anti-bribery, enforcement, governance, law and finance to enforce claims against corrupt actors, and return the stolen patrimony of developing countries in a way that benefits the most vulnerable and marginalised.
According to the joint statement, Restitution’s work will include providing support to Amupanda on civil enforcement and asset recovery, including capacity-building support.
Restitution will provide Amupanda with services ranging from investigations, international lawyers and other assistants as may be required and as contained in the memorandum of understanding concluded between AR and Restitution.
“AR head of legal Maitjituavi Kavetu and lawyer Kadhila Amoomo will join the international legal team put together by Restitution,” he announced.
The activists indicated that the legal team will establish Fishrot claims and Namibian claims, which will qualify and quantify the quantum of what is owed to the people of Namibia that must be returned.
Amupanda added that he will immediately engage prosecutor general Martha Imalwa, attorney general Festus Mbandeka and the minister of justice Yvonne Dausab to persuade them to join this meritorious litigation for the benefit of the people of Namibia as applicants. In the event that these engagements do not bear fruit, the government and those important offices will be cited as respondents in these litigation processes.
“I will also engage the government to work on a framework that will ensure that when successful, the recovered money will be used for industrialisation and the creation of jobs in Namibia, and not used to plug holes of the bleeding government expenditure,” he observed.
Approached for their views on the developments, both Dausab and Mbandeka said they could not yet comment.
“I am currently visiting our courts in the south. I don’t have full appreciation of what they said, and can therefore not express myself on the issue,” said Dausab yesterday.
Mbandeka responded that he has not yet seen the statement, and could therefore not comment.
Katherine Mulhern, the CEO of Restitution, explained that they help partners recover stolen assets so that people’s lives are improved in concrete ways.
“Sometimes additional support is needed, such as helping local investigators trace stolen assets, or strengthening work on anti-corruption. Restitution is ready to provide whatever help is necessary to ensure that the money is returned to victims. We are delighted to work with Job to support him in righting this injustice,” said Mulhern.
Restitution is the world’s first and only impact litigation fund dedicated to working with partners to trace and return illicit financial flows through civil litigation, enforcement and asset recovery.
“Restitution works with partners to develop claims which allow Restitution to deploy the most cutting-edge litigation funding models and the most sophisticated investigation and legal services for our clients while protecting those clients from litigation risk,” the expert said.
Restitution ensures that the vast majority of the recovered assets are returned to their partners in a way that is both transparent and ensures alignment with their priorities.