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Fishrot: Icelanders face extradition

2021-04-23  Roland Routh

Fishrot: Icelanders face extradition
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Namibia is in the process of launching proceedings to extradite three Icelandic nationals, who have been charged with money laundering and tax evasion in the ongoing Fishrot matter. 

Deputy prosecutor general Ed Marondedze yesterday informed Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg the State will apply for the extradition of Icelanders: three Icelandic Samherji employees, Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Aðalsteinn Helgason to stand trial in the Fishrot matter. The trio managed or co-managed Samherji’s companies in Namibia. According to Iceland Review, Árnason has been charged for his work for Esja Holding and Mermaria Seafood Namibia. Júlíusson was the financial director for Saga Seafood, Esja Investment and Heinaste Investments. 

In the Namgomar matter, former minister of fisheries Bernhard Esau; former justice minister Sacky Shanghala; former managing director of Investec Asset Management Namibia (now Ninety One) James Hatuikulipi; his cousin Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, who is also the son-in-law of Esau; Ricardo Gustavo, a former senior manager at Investec Asset Management Namibia; Pius Natangwe Mwatelulo, Nigel van Wyk – Shanghala’s lackey, Otneel Nandetonga Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi will appear on charges of corruptly receiving payments of at least N$103.6 million to allow Icelandic fishing company Samherji secure access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.

In the Fishcor matter Esau, Shanghala, Tamson, James, Mwatelulo and former CEO of Fishcor, Mike Nghipunya, are facing charges ranging from racketeering to fraud and money laundering. 

Also on the list of people to be extradited is Namibian lawyer Marén de Klerk, who is currently in South Africa. De Klerk is charged as 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.

Marondedze also gave notice to the court and the accused that he will apply to have the two cases – the Namgomar case and the Fishcor case – combined, as many of the charges overlap.

The accused appeared before Judge Liebenberg for the start of their pre-trial conference. Liebenberg postponed the matter to 20 May 2021.

Also on the list of accused is legal entities Erongo Clearing and Forwarding cc, as well as JTH Trading cc, represented by Tamson; MH Property Projects, represented by James; Ndjako Investment cc and Fine Seafood Investment Trust, represented by Shuudifonya; Otuafika Investments cc, represented by Mwatelulo; Otjiwarongo Plot Fifty-one cc, represented by Esau; Gwanyemba Investment Trust, represented by Nghipunya and Wanakadu Investment cc, represented by Mwapopi. The accused will be charged with seven counts of racketeering, 12 counts of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, four counts of fraud, alternatively theft and four counts of money laundering.

In the Namgomar matter, the legal entities charged are Namgomar Pesca Namibia, represented by Gustavo; Erongo Clearing and Forwarding, JTH Trading and Fitty Entertainment, represented by Tamson; Otuafika Investments and Otuafika Logistics, represented by Mwatelulo; Olea Investments, Erf One Nine Zero Eight Zero Kuisebmond, Greyguard Investments and Cambadara Trust, represented by James; Omholo Trust, represented by Shanghala; Esja Holdings and Mermaria Seafood Namibia represented Saga Seafood, Esja Investment and Heinaste Investments. They will be arraigned on two counts of racketeering in contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act; two counts of money laundering; three counts of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act; three counts of fraud with alternatives of theft and tax evasion, and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud.

Van Wyk alone faces further charges of unlawful possession of ammunition and assault on a member of the police, while he and Shanghala face a charge of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

The matter came to light after Jóhannes Stefánsson, the former general manager of Samherji in Namibia, blew the whistle on the scam. According to media reports, Samherji’s CEO and biggest shareholder Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson authorised the bribe payments. 

Gustavo was allegedly the sole director of Namgomar Namibia, which was used to divert the quotas to Samherji.

According to information available, Esau and Shanghala forged a bilateral cooperation agreement with Angola’s former fisheries minister Victoria De Barros, her son Joao De Barros and one Antonius Fransisco for the allocation of quotas to each other.

Two entities were then established, Namgomar Pesca in Angola and Namgomar Namibia, which were used to allocate the quotas. According to the charges, the quota from Namibia to Angola were then illegally sold to Samherji, contrary to the spirit of the agreement. The fraudulent scheme came to light in November 2019 after news channel Al Jazeera published its ‘Fishrot files’ documentary, resulting in the arrests of Esau, Shanghala and their cohorts.

The accused remain in custody after several unsuccessful bail applications and appeals.

- rrouth@nepc.com.na 


2021-04-23  Roland Routh

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