A lead investigator into the Fishrot bribery scandal claimed there was a lack of cooperation from a number of countries and jurisdictions, including Angola, whose authorities are refusing to assist their Namibian counterparts in ongoing investigations.
Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) chief investigator Andreas Kanyangela last week informed the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court from a total of nine jurisdictions under investigation, only two have cooperated thus far. Kanyangela revealed that only Norway and Iceland have been cooperative.
“We could not get mutual legal assistance from Angola. They told us that they will carry out their own investigations and deal with their own people. That is why we could not even issue warrants of arrest,” said Kanyangela, while testifying Friday as the State’s witness in their application for a longer postponement in order for investigations to be concluded in the case.
The application is strongly opposed by the accused’s defence team who want the case provisionally struck from the roll. Angola’s former fisheries minister, Victoria De Barros, her son Joao De Barros and one Antonius Fransisco, are alleged to be implicated in the matter. He further informed the court that he was not in the position to inform the court when they will get mutual-legal assistance from other jurisdictions.
Kanyangela then changed his tune on the amount of time it would actually require to finalise investigations. He went from one month to two months and lastly four months during his testimony.
“I took over in 2019 when investigations have already commenced in 2014 when ACC started investigating the appointment of James Hatuikulipi as Fishcor board chairperson. I cannot tell exactly when investigations will be finalised. I cannot also speed up investigations because I do not want to do a de-service to the case,” noted Kanyangela.
Kanyangela replaced Nelius Becker last year as the lead investigator tasked to lead the team investigating Namibia’s biggest corruption case to date, the Fishrot case. Becker resigned from the ACC to re-join the Namibian police. During his testimony, Kanyangela informed the court that ACC has made tremendous progress investigating the main matter which is known as the Nengomar case in the judicial system. ACC has thus far compiled 46 files in relation to the case.
He explained that the additional time sought will be used to obtain few witness statements from people residing in Walvis Bay, analyse evidence that was obtained from Norway and Iceland, which came in a form of a memory stick and hard drive. After the analysis, a case file will be prepared and forwarded to ACC director general Paulus Noa. It was his testimony that the analysis will be done manually as the current system cannot take voluminous information.
“Once the director general (Noa) has perused the file, it will then be forwarded to the prosecutor general who will then decide whether or not to prosecute. But I am confident that the evidence we have collected is enough to prosecute the accused,” explained Kanyangela.
The investigator assured the court that all this could be attained within one month. Although his testimony started off well, it began falling apart when the accused’s defence lawyers started cross-examining him. Amongst the many things that Kanyangela struggled to give answers to, were specific details regarding lawyer Marén de Klerk whose law firm’s account was allegedly used to launder money from state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) and several managers from the Icelandic fishing company group Samherji, which is accused of dishing out bribes to local politicians and business people. Kanyangela also failed to give specific details of their investigations pertaining to Dubai, where 75% of the money has allegedly been transferred to.
The defence team argued the State will not suffer any prejudice if the case was to be provisionally struck from the roll while investigations are being finalised and re-summon the accused once investigations are done. They further argued the State cannot continue to keep the accused in police custody when they are not exactly sure when investigations would be completed. Magistrate Vanessa Stanley postponed the matter to Wednesday for oral submissions.
During the same court proceedings, Kanyangela testified that ACC have concluded their investigations into the Fishcor matter where N$75.6 million was transferred from Fishcor to law firm De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc. during the period August 2014 to December 2019. De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc. allegedly used Celax Investment Number One to distribute the money to individuals and entities. “We have collected 26 files and the evidence we have collected is enough for the case to be forwarded to the prosecutor general,” said Kanyangela.
The Fishcor case was being investigated parallel to the Negomar case. Those at the centre of these allegations are former ministers Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala, Esau’s son-in-law Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo, James Hatuikulipi, Mike Nghipunya and Pius Mwatelulo.
Obstruction of justice
Meanwhile, Shanghala also appeared in the third case alongside Nigel van Wyk where they stand accused of money laundering and attempting to obstruct the course of justice in the ongoing investigations of the Fishrot case.
During their appearance before Magistrate Johannes Shuuveni, the State informed the court of their intention to bring forth a joint application. According to the State, the charges that the accused are facing derive from the main case.
The defence team have informed the court that they will be objecting the application as Van Wyk allegedly does not want to be linked or associated with the Fishrot case. The court thus postponed the matter to the provisional date of 17 September. The accused were being represented by Trevor Brokerhoff, Jermaine Muchali, Tinashe Chibwana, Kalundu Kamwi and Floriene Beukes. Deputy state prosecutor general Cliff Litubezi was prosecuting.