Fishrot accused Ricardo Gustavo is adamant there was no joint venture between the Angolan entity Namgomar Pesca Namibia and Namgomar Pesca SA.
This came to light yesterday while answering questions from deputy prosecutor general Cliff Lutibezi before Windhoek High Court Judge Herman Oosthuizen.
Lutibezi put it to Gustavo that no agreement was in place between Namibia and Angola, and that there was merely a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries. Hence, Gustavo, James and Tamson Hatuikulipi and former ministers Sacky Shanghala and Bernardt Esau used that MoU to get their hands on a fishing quota meant for Angola.
Gustavo denied this categorically, and said he was never involved in the drafting of or negotiations between the two governments.
Regarding various email communications between Gustavo, James, Shanghala and Jaõa de Barros, the son of the Angolan fisheries minister at the time Victoria de Barros Neto, Gustavo maintained that the emails were about the establishment of the Namibian entity to execute the quota the Angolans were to receive according to the MoU.
According to the MoU, De Barros Neto was to nominate a company to access the quota, and she nominated a company belonging to her and her son called Namgomar Pesca SA Limitada.
The MoU, however, had a condition that the quota must be executed by a local (Namibian) company, and that’s why Namgomar Pesca Namibia was created. Gustavo explained that during 2012, he was approached by De Barros to help him establish the Namibian entity.
Regarding the involvement of James, Shanghala and Esau, he said Shanghala and Esau were involved with the negotiations on the MoU while James acted in an advisory capacity for Namgomar Pesca SA Limitada.
Tamson Hatuikulipi was also involved in an advisory capacity for the Samherji Group of Companies from Iceland, who wanted to enter the Namibian fishing scene.
Namgomar Pesca then received a quota of 10 000 metric tonnes for horse mackerel during 2014, and they went on to enter into a catching agreement with Esja Holding, a subsidiary of Samherji, for a fee of N$500 per ton, he explained, adding that this was because they did not have their own vessels.
According to the catching agreement, Esja was to be allocated the quota Namgomar would receive annually until 2023, but Fishrot happened, and they withdrew from Namibia. As a result, Esja managed to catch 50 000 tonnes during the six years. From the resultant fees paid, 75% was allegedly paid into the account of Tundavella Investments in Dubai, in which James had a substantial interest and from where several payments were made to the Fishrot accused, Lutibezi charged.
Gustavo just indicated that he has no knowledge of this and never received any funds from Tundavalla, and only came to know about the entity from the disclosure documents.
Gustavo further explained that he was never a shareholder in either the Angolan entity or the Namibian subsidiary, and was only a director and employee responsible for the fiscal and regulatory obligations of the company in Namibia.
He refuted allegations that he regularly under-declared the income of the company and is thus guilty of tax evasion, which is one of the charges he faces. According to the State, Namgomar Pesca Namibia declared an income of N$9 million only during 2014 and 2019, while N$44 million flowed through their coffers.
Lutibezi also put it to Gustavo that N$150 million was misappropriated through this deal as the going rate per ton at the time was N$3 000, and they undersold the quota for their own benefit.
He refuted all these claims, and said at the end of Lutibezi’s cross-examination that he did not commit any of the offences preferred against him
The head of the section for trial-awaiting inmates at the Windhoek Correctional Facility, deputy commissioner Veiko Armas, was afterwards being grilled about the conditions at the facility yesterday afternoon, and the matter will continue today.
Bail-seeking…Fishrot accused Ricardo Gustavo
Photo: Emmency Nuukala