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Mike Nghipunya: I was merely following orders

2021-11-05  Roland Routh

Mike Nghipunya: I was merely following orders
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Former CEO of the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia, Mike Nghipunya yesterday maintained his stance that he was just following orders when he disbursed huge amounts of money to various entities.

Going through an audit report, he outlined several transactions where money was allocated to entities that he did not know or could not take responsibility for as he was just carrying out instructions. 

He further said the mere suggestion that he was involved in the misappropriation of several millions of Namibia dollars is far-fetched and totally devoid of any truth. 

He made these assertions during the second day of his bail hearing in the Windhoek High Court before Judge Shafimana Ueitele. He said the report commissioned in 2019 accounts for every cent that was paid out by him as Fishcor CEO. 

“Money cannot be missing, as the report indicates where and to whom the money went,” he said, adding that the State did not do a proper investigation and now wants to lay that failure at his door. 

“Mike was not the one who made the allocations, Mike was not the one who decided who are the beneficiaries, and neither was Fishcor,” he lamented. 

He said after the funds were paid into the accounts of the law firms, he had no further knowledge of what happened to it.

On Wednesday, he had claimed that he was instructed to sell a horse mackerel quota to the tune of N$44 million on behalf of Swapo, and that the money generated from this sale was paid into the accounts of law firm Sisa Namandje Inc (N$5 million) in 2017 – and the first payment of N$14 million was paid to the De Klerk, Horn and Coetzee law firm. The value of the quota, at N$2 500 per metric tonne, stands at around N$44 million. 

Nghipunya on Tuesday told Ueitele that he has no reason to run away, as he has done nothing wrong. 

Yesterday, he said the allegations against him are “unfounded” and based on a misunderstanding of the workings of such quotas. Nghipunya was fired from Fishcor in November 2020 after he was arrested in February that year. 

He added that during 2019, he was asked by the fisheries ministry to take over the running of the Hardap Aquaculture facility and he agreed in principle, pending a feasibility study. 

He then approached an Icelandic national, Egill Arnason, for technical assistance in exchange for a quota. Fishcor and Saga Seafoods afterwards went into an agreement, where Saga was given a quota of between 12 500 metric tons and managed to catch 12 500 MT. They paid N$5 million to Fishcor and the rest of the proceeds to Seaflower Pelagic.

Nghipunya added that N$10.3 million was paid to Fine Foods Investment Trust. He reiterated that he was only following orders and was not responsible for where and to whom the money was allocated to. He said there was also never an agreement with Saga Seafoods, but one of the accused in the Fishrot case, Otniel Shuudifoonya, was approached by Saga Seafoods to supply fish feed. The money to Fine Seafoods was allegedly for fish feed procured by Saga, and Fishcor, according to Nghipunya, was also requested to pay for the fish feed.  

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. It is alleged by the State that he benefitted N$43 960 394.

Nghipunya and his co-accused, Bernhardt Esau, Sacky Shanghala, Tamson and James Hatuikulipi, Pius Mwatelulo, Ricardo Gustavo, Shuudifonya, Phillipus Mwapopi and Nigel van Wyk 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.

 Also on the list of people added to the charges is lawyer Marèn de Klerk. The State is yet to extradite De Klerk from South Africa as well as Icelandic nationals Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Aðalsteinn Helgason.

The State alleges that all the accused acted in common purpose.  

The hearing continues today.

Nghipunya is represented by Thabang Phatela on instructions of Milton Engelbrecht, and the State by Cliff Lutibezi and Ed Marondedze.

-rrouth@nepc.com.na

 

 


2021-11-05  Roland Routh

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