WALVIS BAY – Seaflower Pelagic Processing (SPP) majority owner Adrian Louw says he does not regret investing in Namibia despite an unceremonious fallout with government-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) resulting in potential losses of N$100 million.
Louw said they now seek President Hage Geingob’s intervention, following the collapse of the partnership with Fishcor. Louw, who on Monday spoke to various journalists at the SPP factory at Walvis Bay, said he is rather sad and bitter about the turn of events while he invested more than N$700 million in the partnership.
The SPP plant was established in 2017 as a joint venture between the Fishcor and Namibian business entity African Selection Fishing, which is owned by Louw.
“Our option now is to seek intervention from the President into the matter and arbitration in order to recover the quotas that we have lost so far from Fishcor as well as find an amicable solution for this investment,” he said.
“The SPP saga, as well as the ongoing Fishrot case, is clearly having a negative impact on investors’ confidence in Namibia and can impact us very negatively in terms of future foreign investments.”
Louw claimed he was approached by the Fishrot implicated former minister of fisheries Bernhard Esau and the former chairperson of Fishcor James Hatuikuilipi to invest in Namibia, seeing that he was operating a state-of-the-art factory successfully in Angola for years.
“They approached me – and because it is my country, I agreed to invest. Government sourced for a partner to commence a land-based pelagic processing factory; all the elements that were being brought to the table by government had already been published in two government gazettes. The 50 000 metric tons of horse mackerel quota and the prime land was already there when I was approached,” Louw explained on Monday.
According to him, the proposal was initially offered to Namsov, Erongo Marine as well as and the Icelanders, who all refused.
“We took the deal and invested extensively in the factory and three vessels – but to date, we have received not a single cent back from such a massive investment in which Fishcor has hardly complied with its side of the agreement,” Louw said.
Over two months ago, the chairperson of the interim Fishcor board Mihe Gaomab II distanced the state-owned entity from agreements signed with SPP, adding they were pursuing legal options to severe ties and terminate non-beneficial agreements.
Gaomab at the time claimed the fact that they cannot trace government’s return on investment in terms of the 50 000 metric tons SPP benefited from Fishcor is one of the reasons why they were ending the agreement.
Fishcor is currently implicated in the Fishrot scandal, which has led to the arrest and incarceration of former CEO Mike Nghipunya, James Hatuikulipi, former Cabinet ministers Sacky Shanghala and Esau, as well as his son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo.
Another person implicated in the scandal is former senior manager at Investec Asset Management Namibia Ricardo Gustavo.
Esau, Shanghala, Mwatelulo, Tamson, James Hatuikulipi and Nghipunya are charged with corruption and fraud involving N$75.6 million allegedly diverted from Fishcor for their benefit.
In fact, the current scandal resulted in government opting to auction to the highest bidder its 83 392-government objective quota that Fishcor usually disposed of.
Despite the fragile relationship, Fishcor awarded SPP a tender to supply 200 000 trays of canned pilchards to the value of N$35 million.
“If we were the criminals, why did they award the tender to us. It is puzzling that we to date do not know what we did wrong. Nobody has informed us about our crime,” Louw said. - firstname.lastname@example.org