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More details emerge in Fishrot case

2020-07-14  Maria Sheya

More details emerge in Fishrot case

Marén de Klerk, one of the lawyers whose law firm?s account was allegedly used to launder money from State-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) has provided the Anti-Corruption Commission of Namibia (ACC) with an affidavit that he was involved in a conspiracy.

This formed part of ACC senior investigator Karl Cloete’s testimony last week in the bail hearing of former Fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau and his son-in-law Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, that De Klerk had admitted in his affidavit he was part of a conspiracy to commit fraud. Cloete informed the court that they obtained De Klerk’s affidavit and various documents from his lawyers.

De Klerk is a partner in the law firm De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc. where N$75.6 million was transferred to from Fishcor during the period from August 2014 to December 2019. De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc. then used Celax Investment Number One to distribute the money to individuals and entities. De Klerk is the only shareholder in Celax Investment Number One.
Esau and Hatuikulipi’s lawyer Richard Metcalfe notified the court that De Klerk is in a psychiatric institution in South Africa, as it appears that he has developed ‘mental problems.’

Metcalfe questioned why there is no warrant of arrest issued against him yet. However, Cloete maintained that the ACC is still busy with investigations and they are yet to decide if De Klerk will be a State witness or a suspect but his time might come sooner than later.
“It is worrisome. As it seems like there is an animal called lawyers with indemnity in this case. It is funny how the ACC wishes to conduct its investigations,” said Metcalfe while again enquiring about another lawyer Sisa Namandje whose law firm’s trust account received more than N$17 million from Fishcor. 
Cloete informed the court he was not going to answer questions pertaining to Namandje but assured the court that the ACC is busy with investigations. 

‘Otjiwarongo plot 51’
Cloete testified that there is documented evidence that Esau signed an agreement to buy plot 51 in Otjiwarongo area via a close cooperation in December 2017, a plot he claims he did not know about.
The plot was allegedly bought for N$1.7 million, money that came from the Icelandic fishing company group Samherji and deposited into De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc. De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc. then transferred the funds to Celax Investment Number One. 
Celax Investment Number One then invested the money into IJG Investments but the funds were transferred back to Celax Investment Number One who then made the payment for the land.

The funds for the purchase was paid in three parts, with the first deposit of N$50 000 made on 24 November 2017, according to Cloete.
Cloete further testified that Esau and De Klerk were notified via email by the conveyer of the balance to be paid for the plot and the signed purchase agreement.

ACC investigator and forensic analyst, Selma Kalumbu testified that a payment of N$275 000 with the description ‘B Esau’ and another of N$975 000 referenced ‘Esau Plot’ were made by Celax Investments Number One and De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc.’s trust account.
Kalumbu, however, testified her analysis could not indicate any money from Celax Investments Number One and De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc.’s trust account to Esau’s bank account. Kalumbu said that she is yet to make an analysis of Esau’s bank statements.
Metcalfe said that Esau and his wife had no idea that they owned the land. 

He said that Esau was made aware of the plot by De Klerk, but he informed him that he had no funds to purchase the land.
Metcalfe informed the court that Esau was shocked when he learned his company (CC) is the registered owner of the plot.
“Esau and his wife were never notified of the sale of the property nor did they receive the deed of sale, which is a standard practice, said Metcalfe. Thus, they do not want the plot and have given power of attorney for the property to be seized by the State.”

2020-07-14  Maria Sheya

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