WALVIS BAY – The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Saturday advised Namibian authorities not to allow any shipping vessels or persons linked to the Fishrot case to leave Namibia without notifying ACC or the Namibian police.
This came in the wake of a Samherji-linked fishing vessel that sailed out of Namibian waters on Wednesday night for repairs in Las Palmas in Spain.
The Namibian flagged vessel, Saga, is one of the vessels linked to Samherji the Islandic Company, which is at the centre of the international fishing bribery scandal implicating former Namibian justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau and local businessmen.
One the other vessels, Heinaste, was sold to a Russian company but currently impounded and guarded at Namport after its captain was found fishing in shallow waters. The captain will be sentenced on Wednesday. The other vessel, Geysir, arrived over the weekend from fishing grounds in Namibia.
Samherji reportedly secured access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia by paying bribes of around N$150 million to politicians and businessmen between 2012 and 2018. Saga, Heinaste and Geysir are the trawlers used for catching the horse mackerel. Saga is allegedly undergoing maintenance.
One of the seamen, Leonard Shinedima, last week indicated maintenance was initially scheduled for later this year; however, the seamen were instructed last week Wednesday to remove their luggage, as the vessel was leaving immediately for ‘repair’.
ACC director Paulus Noa over the weekend told New Era that efforts are underway to have Saga returned to Namibia.
“Due to the magnitude of the case, we strongly advise that no vessel linked to this case must be permitted to leave Namibian ports without ACC or Namibian Police notified, as we anticipate more arrests,” stated Noa.
According to Noa, ACC wants to ensure no assets of the suspects and entities linked to the Fishrot are disposed of.
“This may include vessels belonging to companies implicated in this case. We remain astute and deeply committed to get to the bottom of this case. Hence, we are appealing to foreign authorities to demonstrate their true commitment to international cooperation in the fight against bribery and corruption by ensuring properties, including vessels that were used in this corruption and bribery scandal, are returned to Namibia,” Noa stated on Saturday.
Saga employed about 120 seamen, who find themselves in a complicated situation, as they are most likely be out of jobs because there is no fishing quota available even if the vessel returns within six months.