Former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau and his son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi, who were both arrested in November last year for alleged corruption, have approached the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court for bail consideration. Their formal bail hearing is scheduled to take place today in Windhoek.
Esau and Hatuikulipi have been in custody since their arrest in November 2019 following reports that an Icelandic fishing company Samherji reportedly secured access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia by paying bribes of around N$103 million to politicians and businessmen between 2014 and 2019, according to the Fishrot Files of Wikileaks. The former minister, alongside ex-justice minister Sacky Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo, Tamson Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo, are all facing counts of fraud, bribery, corruptly using office for gratification, money laundering and conspiring to commit corruption for the alleged offences.
The prosecution has also opened a case against Esau and his co-accused in connection to N$75.6 million that was allegedly siphoned out of state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor).
The group is accused of defrauding government and Fishcor during the period from August 2014 to December 2019 when they channelled N$75.6 million meant for Fishcor to themselves or entities of their choice through the company Celax Investment Number One and the law firm De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc.
The prosecution is further alleging that between 2014 and 2019, Esau and his co-accused misrepresented to the Ministry of Finance and the Directorate of Inland Revenue that Namgomar Pesca Namibia generated revenue of N$14.1 million from 2014 to 2019, whereas the company generated revenue of N$40.1 million. For these allegations Esau and his co-accused are facing counts of fraud, bribery, corruptly using office for gratification, money laundering and conspiring to commit corruption.
In a separate case, Gustavo has approached the High Court to appeal the decision of the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court to refuse him bail.
The hearing is scheduled to take place on 17 July. So far, Gustavo, suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya and a worker of Shanghala have all been denied bail.