The Windhoek Magistrate’s Court said it would not take the risk of granting bail to the suspended CEO of state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) Mike Nghipunya, pending the finalisation of his case.
He was refused bail yesterday by the Deputy Chief Magistrate, Ingrid Unengu.
Unengu ruled that although Nghipunya did not abscond during the three months of knowing that he was a person of interest, his circumstances have changed since then and he will be likely tempted to abscond and thus it would be too risky to release him on bail.
Furthermore, the court cannot exclude the possibility that he will not interfere with ongoing investigations as during the bail hearing, he admitted to being a ‘yes man’ when he followed instructions from his co-accused and former boss James Hatuikulipi and former fisheries minister Benard Esau to make the questionable payments.
Unengu explained the State has managed to prove that there is a strong prima facie case when it linked the alleged offences to Nghipunya.
“It is the finding of this court that the interests of justice do not permit the release of the applicant on bail. The applicant is not a suitable candidate to be released on bail,” reiterated Unengu during the ruling.
Nghipunya was arrested by the Anti- Corruption Commission of Namibia (ACC) in February, in connection to the N$75.6 million that was syphoned out of Fishcor between August 2014 and December 2019.
He is charged alongside former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau, former minister of justice Sacky Shanghala, former Investec Asset Management Namibia managing director and former chairperson of Fishcor James Hatuikulipi, Esau’s son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo.
On the charge of corruptly using office for gratification, the prosecution is alleging that Nghipunya alongside Esau, Shanghala and James used their offices or positions in a public body to obtain gratification to obtain N$75.6 million that was paid to them or entities of their choice between August 2014 and December 2019.
Tamson and Mwatelulo are charged with conspiring with the other four to commit the offence of corruptly using an office or position to obtain gratification.
On the charge of fraud, the prosecution is alleging that Nghipunya together with Esau, Shanghala and James defrauded Fishcor and government by channelling payments totalling N$75.6 million to themselves or entities of their choice.
The money allegedly went through Celax Investment Number One and the law firm De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc.
In his bid to be released on bail Nghipunya was being represented by Thabang Phatela and Milton Engelbrecht whilst the State was represented by deputy prosecutor general Ed Marondedze, assisted by Hesekiel Iipinge.