Bail-seeking former Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya claimed documents related to his business affairs, which were retrieved from his work computer could have been forged or tampered with.
During the sixth day of his testimony before Windhoek High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele, Nghipunya could neither confirm nor deny that it was indeed his computer in possession of the prosecution.
He also denied entering into agreements with entities owned by some of his co-accused who were doing business with Fishcor. His lawyer Thabang Phatela also objected to that line of questioning, saying they reserve their right to apply for any evidence obtained through confiscated devices through a disputed search and seizure warrant to be dismissed in the main trial.
He reiterated his stance that the questions are not relevant at this stage of the trial. Judge Ueitele, however, dismissed the objection and stressed his previous ruling that the State is entitled to cross-examine any evidence before court, but warned deputy prosecutor general Cliff Lutibezi that any document produced by the prosecution must be identified to the defence beforehand.
Lutibezi then produced a purported memorandum of agreement between Otneel Shuudifonya and Nghipunya to register an entity, Ndjako Investment, with a 50/50 shareholding. Ndjako was the recipient of more than N$7 million from Fine Seafoods according to the State and that money was distributed between the accused thereafter, they further claimed.
The State also produced another memorandum of agreement between Nghipunya and Phillipus Mwapopi in which they allegedly agreed to register a company called Wanakadu Investment in which both will hold a 50% shareholding. This company also benefitted from transactions with Fishcor, the State alleged.
“That is noted, but I don’t take ownership of either of the documents,” said Nghipunya. According to the agreements, Nghipunya, Mwapopi and Shuudifonya were to form 50/50 partnerships for the proceeds of the companies.
Mwapopi and Shuudifonya further agreed to hold and represent the interests of both in the different entities at all times, according to the purported agreement. They further agreed not to claim ownership in part or whole of other funds transferred to the companies from time to time, thereby recognising that such funds are not part of the day-to-day operations revenue of the companies, but belonging to Nghipunya and that the former Fishcor CEO agrees not to claim ownership in part or whole of operational revenue of the companies that will be distributed on a 50/50 basis.
Nghipunya further agreed, according to the purported agreements, he will remunerate his partners from other funds as they come in from time to time in consideration of the representation by them for the parties.
With regards to Shuudifonya, 80% of all income, including other funds and operational revenues and 50% of the shares, will be transferred to Gwanyemba Investment in the event of Nghipunya’s demise and 50% of the shares and 50% of the operational revenue to the estate of Shuudifonya in the event of his death. With regards to Mwapopi, 50% of all income including other funds and operational revenue as well as 50% of the shares in Wanakadu Investment will revert to Gwanyemba Investment, while in the event of Mwapopi’s death 50% of the shares and 50% of the operational revenue will be transferred to his estate.
When questioned about the relationship between him and his “partners”, Nghipunya said they moved in the same social circles and that he got to know them through mutual friends.
He, however, indicated he and Mwapopi became friends between 2014 and 2015, and that Mwapopi assisted him in the running of his other business interests including a diamond mining venture in Angola. With regards to Shuudifonya, he said that although they knew each other, they were not friends. He further questioned the State’s attitude towards “desperately linking him to the misappropriation of funds to his co-accused”.
Nghipunya is facing 30 charges, including racketeering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft, and money laundering and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
Nghipunya and his co-accused Bernhardt Esau, Sacky Shanghala, Tamson and James Hatuikulipi, Pius Mwatelulo, Ricardo Gustavo, Shuudifonya, 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 and Icelandic nationals Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Aðalsteinn Helgason. The State alleges that all the accused acted in common purpose. The bail hearing continues today.