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Locals want Samherji to exit with grace

2020-01-20  Edgar Brandt

Locals want Samherji to exit with grace
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WINDHOEK - Samherji, the Icelandic company at the centre of the disgraceful ‘Fishrot’ scandal, is being accused of unethical behaviour while in the process of de-investing its operations in Namibia. 

While Samherji issued a statement on Friday saying that leaving Namibia will be done in close dialogue with relevant authorities and in line with international standards and law, a local company says the Icelandic company must first agree with Namibians on the exact terms of their departure. 

At the centre of the storm is the Heinaste fishing vessel, which was bought about two years ago through a joint venture between Iceland subsidiary and Namibian companies. 

Now, Virgilio De Sousa, Chairperson of Artic Nam Investments, the company created for the acquisition of the vessel, is accusing Samherji of trying to sell the vessel back to themselves at a significantly reduced price through a joint venture with a Russian company. 

De Sousa agrees that it is a good idea for Samherji to leave the country but remained adamant they must agree with Namibians on the terms of their withdrawal. 

Furthermore, with a 42 percent stake in the fishing vessel, he says Namibians will lose out if Samherji manages to complete the vessel’s sale for US$19 million while it was bought for US$28 million a mere two years ago. 

Fishing industry insiders have told New Era that Samherji also approached Namibian fishing companies to buy their 58 percent share in the vessel. 

Furthermore, De Sousa has accused the foreign owners of removing all Namibian directors from the board of the company that owns the vessel. 

This, he suspects, was to make selling the vessel at a reduced price much easier. Meanwhile, in the statement issued on Friday, Samherji noted that it has taken steps to implement a corporate governance and compliance system. The decision to implement the system was based on experience from the company’s operations in Namibia. 

The new system will be part of the Samherji Group’s future management structure and will cover Samherji and all its subsidiaries.

“Samherji will develop and implement a holistic compliance system based on the company’s risk structure with focus on, among others, anti-corruption, economic sanctions and anti-money laundering,” says Björgólfur Jóhannsson the interim CEO of Samherji. 

The system is expected to be implemented and up and running later this year. 
“The compliance system will be key in a new internal program, where we will require all employees to take active part in the process to reassess our values, culture and routines. We will implement a system for risk assessment, code of conduct and policies in the compliance system.”Jóhannsson added that even though Samherji has faced serious accusations from the media in recent months the company has managed to protect relationships with customers and partners both domestically and abroad and continued to service all customers as normal.  

“Our employees have, as always, done a fantastic job focusing on making sure we deliver products of top quality to the local and international market,” says Jóhannsson.

2020-01-20  Edgar Brandt

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