Four Icelandic journalists who uncovered what is now known as the Fishrot scandal and which led to the arrest and detention of former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau, his justice counterpart Sacky Shanghala and five others have been awarded the Union of Icelandic Journalists’ 2019 Bladamannaverðlaun for Best Investigative Reporting for their coverage of the bribery saga.
The four are Aðalsteinn
Kjartansson, Helgi Seljan, Stefán Drengsson, and Ingi Freyr Vilhjálmsson. The awards were for their collaborative coverage of the documentary, ‘The Anatomy of the Bribe’ which aired on 1 December 2019 on global network television Al Jazeera.
“Few stories generated more interest in the Icelandic media. The coverage has had a significant impact, both here in Iceland and abroad,” read the jury’s justification for the award.
Esau and Shanghala were arrested alongside James and Tamson Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo and Pius Mwatelulo following allegations that they benefited from kickbacks paid in Namibia and Dubai.
They are also implicated in questionable fishing quota transactions of more than N$100 million between 2012 and 2018, according to court documents.
Suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya has also been charged following his recent arrest.
It is alleged that during the period of August 2014 to December 2019, the accused person’s acting in common purpose directly or indirectly, corruptly and intentionally used their offices in public bodies to obtain gratification of N$76.6 million on the pretext that such amount was for government objectives being monies, which was meant for Fishcor from Saga Sea Food and Mermaria Seafood, and which money was paid to them or entities of their choice through Celax Investment Number One via the law firm DHC Inc. for their own benefit or the benefit of others.
The matter has since been postponed to 23 April for further investigations after a very short appearance of the accused before Windhoek magistrate Philanda Christiaan last month.
Exposed…The Fishrot suspects during an earlier court appearance.
Photo: Emmency Nuukala