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Fishrot bail hearing on a break, new one begins

2021-11-15  Roland Routh

Fishrot bail hearing on a break, new one begins
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The bail application in which former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former chair of Fishcor James Hatiuikulipi, former CEO of Fishcor Mike Nghipunya, Pius Mwatelulo, Otneel Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi are seeking to regain their liberty was postponed on Friday until January next year.

Windhoek High Court Judge Shafimana Uietele, who is presiding over the matter, remanded it to 24 January next, and set it down to continue until 28 January – and again from 31 January to 4 February. 

If not completed from 21 to 25 February.

The postponement followed the end of Mwapopi’s testimony in the bail hearing, and he is expected to be cross-examined on his role in the Fishrot saga by deputy prosecutor general Cliff Lutibezi when the hearing resumes. 

The State is alleging that he, in cahoots with Nghipunya, defrauded Fishcor with an amount of N$4.1 million for dry fish for the drought relief programme that was never delivered. 

He denied this, and told the court he is an honest man – and that his dealings with Fishcor was all above board. 

He further denied that Nghipunya was a 50% silent partner in his business entity, Wanakadu Investments. 

Mwapopi, who is currently on suspension without pay from his day job as a Windhoek City Police officer pending the outcome of the trial, told the court that during 2016, he became aware of a company, Flamingo Inflight Catering, that dealt in fishing products. 

With a business idea in mind, he enquired from the owner of the company, Nicky, about products and quantities he had. 

He then approached Nghipunya with a proposition to buy drought relief products, such as dried fish from him – and Nghipunya told him to write a letter. 

He did this, and received a favourable reply from Fishcor – and he then asked his friend Nicky to supply him with a pro-forma invoice for 173 bags of dried horse mackerel, valued at N$1.05 million; 200 bags of fish meal, valued at N$1.49 million – and 153 bags of dried hake, valued at N$1.049 million. 

He then forwarded the quotation to Fishcor, and received a reply to forward an invoice to Fishcor, which were paid in the amount of N$4.1 million, including VAT. 

He further said the deal was that he will deliver the product in Windhoek, but a last-minute change dictated that Fishcor will pick the products up in Karibib themselves – and that was the extent of his involvement. 

He, however, produced a delivery note that said the products were delivered at the cold storage warehouse of Seaflower in Lüderitz. 

The State alleges the company in fact belongs to James, and that it was a ruse to defraud Fishcor.

 According to the indictment, N$3.15 million was paid to Flamingo immediately after the money was paid to Wanakadu, and to Greyguard Investments and Erf 1980 Kuisbemond – entities controlled by James – and the rest divided between Mwapopi and Nghipunya. 

He vehemently denied these claims. 

Mwapopi told the court he deserves to be released on bail to mount a proper defence against the baseless charges against him, and that he can put up a bail amount of N$62 000. 

He further said he is the only one gainfully employed in his family – and besides his wife and daughter, he has his sister’s three children as well as his mother to support. 

He further said he also financially supports his other siblings, including two sisters and a brother financially.           

Meanwhile, Windhoek High Court Judge Herman Oosthuizen will preside over the bail hearing of another Fishrot accused Ricardo Gustavo (45), who was the sole member of Namgomar Pesca Namibia.

Namgomar was allegedly used as a conduit to divert money meant for governmental objectives to third parties, including the accused persons. 

Gustavo will be represented by Trevor Brockerhoff, while deputy prosecutor general Ed Marondedze will represent the State. 

The suspect is facing two counts of racketeering, two counts of money laundering, four counts of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, three counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud alternatively theft, and one main count of theft. 

It is alleged by the State that Gustavo benefitted with at least N$22.4 million from the Fishrot scandal. 

Mwapopi and his co-accused Bernhardt Esau, Sacky Shanghala, Tamson and James Hatuikulipi, Pius Mwatelulo, Ricardo Gustavo, Otneel Shuudifonya, Mike Nghipunya and Nigel van Wyk stand accused of corruptly receiving payments to give a competitive advantage to Icelandic fishing company Samherji in securing access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.

Also on the list of people added to the charges is lawyer Marèn de Klerk.

The State is yet to extradite De Klerk from South Africa and Icelandic nationals Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Aðalsteinn Helgason. 

The State alleges that all the accused acted in common purpose. 

The accused remain in custody.

- rrouth@nepc.com.na


2021-11-15  Roland Routh

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