Former CEO of Fishcor Mike Nghipunya last week told the Windhoek High Court that the company’s then board chairperson and co-accused James Hatuikulipi was the one who gave orders for the transfer of funds to the De Klerk, Horn and Coetzee law firm as well as Sisa Namandje Inc.
He testified in his bail hearing that Hatuikulipi and former justice minister Sacky Shanghala were ‘mandated’ by Swapo to manage the ruling party’s campaign funds and to revive the Ndilimani Culture Troupe. He was further adamant that N$15 million was paid into Namandje’s trust account on instructions from Hatuikulipi for Swapo’s election campaign, but pleaded ignorance on the usage of the funds.
“From the time I transferred the funds into the lawyer’s accounts, I had nothing to do with it anymore,” he said while being cross-examined by prosecutor Cliff Lutibezi. Nghipunya stated that after the funds were transferred, he only verified that the money was received by the lawyers, and that he still had no idea who the ultimate beneficiaries of the funds were. The State put it to him that he knew very well that the money was meant for the personal use of his co-accused and not for Swapo, as he claims.
He, however, maintained his stance that he was told by Hatuikulipi that the funds were meant for Swapo’s congress and election campaign. Lutibezi, however, did not let up and presented him with a list of beneficiaries of the funds.
According to a forensic report handed in by Nghipunya, Fishcor received N$39 million from Mermaria Seafood Namibia, N$36.6 million from Saga Seafood, and transferred N$56.7 million to Celex Investment, which was owned and operated by fugitive lawyer Marèn de Klerk. From that amount, just more than N$1.2 million was paid to former minister of fisheries Bernhardt Esau for conveyancing for his farm, Farm Good Hope. A further N$4 million was paid to Erongo Clearing and Forwarding Agencies belonging to Tamson Hatuikulipi.
An amount of N$11.7 million was paid to JTH Trading, also belonging to Tamson; N$8 million to MH Property Projects, belonging to James Hatuikulipi; N$2 million to Ndjako Investment, belonging to co-accused Otneel Shuudifoonya; and N$2.325 million to Om’Kumo Cultural Trust, represented by Shanghala. An amount of N$11.7 million was reportedly paid to Otuafika Logistics, represented by Pius Mwatelelo, and N$14.7 million to Phonlill Business Trust, represented by James Hatuikulipi.
An amount of N$2.3 million was furthermore paid to Moyo Estates, represented by James Hatuikulipi, while N$332 250 was paid to De Klerk, and N$6.9 million allegedly to Swapo. Thabang Phatela, on behalf of Nghipunya, objected strongly to this line of questioning, saying a bail hearing is not the right platform to introduce this kind of evidence. Lutibezi countered that it was Nghipunya who introduced the report, and it is his right to cross-examine him on it.
Presiding judge Shafimana Ueitele agreed with Lutibezi, but cautioned him to be careful in his approach. Nghipunya is facing 30 charges comprising racketeering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft, money laundering and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
Nghipunya and his co-accused 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. The State alleges that all the accused acted with a common purpose. The hearing continues today. -firstname.lastname@example.org