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Fishrot lawyer extradition drags on

2021-07-29  Maria Amakali

Fishrot lawyer extradition drags on
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Namibian authorities are working on additional requirements requested by the South African government to arrest and extradite lawyer Marén de Klerk, one of the key figures in the Fishrot corruption scandal.

“Initial documents have been sent and feedback with additional requirements has been shared by South Africa,” justice minister Yvonne Dausab said this week upon
enquiry.  

She further noted the additional requirements sought are currently being attended to, although she would not divulge the exact requirements. 

Last month, The Namibian reported the South African justice ministry confirmed to have received a request from the Namibian government to arrest De Klerk.

De Klerk, who refers to himself as the ‘paymaster’ in the Fishrot scheme, has been residing in South Africa since February 2020, three months after former ministers Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala, as well as other accused were arrested in connection with the scandal. 

Extradition was also requested in relation to Icelandic executives Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Adalsteinn Helgason, who worked for Samherji, an Icelandic seafood company that is accused of bribing Namibian politicians and their cronies in transactions worth more than N$3 billion to access fishing quotas.

However, according to court documents, Icelandic authorities on 19 February this year refused the request, citing Icelandic laws do not permit extradition of their citizens. 

Furthermore, there is no extradition agreement between the two countries.

The Icelanders were to stand trial in the High Court alongside De Klerk, Shanghala, Esau, former Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Phillipus Mwapopi, Otneel Shuudifonya, Pius Mwatelulo and Ricardo Gustavo. 

The bribery scandal involves bribes amounting to over N$150 million, reportedly paid by Samherji, one of Iceland’s largest fishing companies, in return for preferential access to Namibia’s fishing grounds. 

They are expected to stand trial on charges ranging from theft to fraud, bribery, corruptly using office for gratification, accepting gratification, money laundering, tax evasion and conspiring to commit corruption.

The group will be returning to court on 19 August for allocation of trial dates in relation to a joinder application by the state. 

All the local accused are in police custody after many failed attempts to be released on bail.

- mamakali@nepc.com.na

 


2021-07-29  Maria Amakali

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