"I have money.” Bail-seeking Fishrot accused Otneel Shuudifonya confidently declared yesterday in the Windhoek High Court before Judge Shafimana Ueitele after he was queried over his ability to pay back N$10.3 million that was advanced to him by Saga Seafoods for a purported fish feed project. Shuudifonya, who was under cross-examination by deputy prosecutor
general Cliff Lutibezi, said the money was currently invested in two projects, including a diamond mine in Angola and a liquid petroleum gas project in Brakwater on the outskirts of Windhoek.
He said he would be in a position to oblige if Safa Seafoods were to ask for their money back. According to him, he invested about N$900 000 in the mining operation for the acquisition of equipment. He further said he also had an agreement with Gwanyemba Investment Trust for property development while the rest of the money was spent on value-added tax.
He was, however, at pains to explain when Lutibezi pointed out that he received at least N$180 000 in cash payments from Ndjako Investments. He then explained it was for operational expenses. He also said during 2017, he approached Fishrot co-accused James Hatuikulipi for a loan of N$3.8 million which was given to him through Otuafika Logistics.
According to him, he was under the impression the company belonged to Hatuikulipi, but the loan agreement was signed between him on behalf of Ndjako Investments and Pius Mwatelulo on behalf of Otuafika Logistics. Mwatelulo is also a suspect in the ongoing matter. He repaid the loan in August 2018 with a final amount of N$2.7 million from the money he had allegedly received from Low-Key Investments for consultancy services
and vessel management.
With regards to the N$19.6 million he received from Low-Key Investments for the services rendered, he said that none of those monies has anything to do with governmental objectives fishing quotas.
He further said the State wanted to link him to the Fishrot through his friends, who are his co-accused. With regards to the fishing quotas, Low-Key received as government objectives because of their “substantial” investment in Namibia, Fishcor never received any payments, but payments were made to Wanakadu Investment, Fine Seafood Investments and Ndjako Investment, the State alleged.
Lutibezi read from a statement by Louis Fernandez, the CEO of Low-Key Investment who claimed former Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya called him during 2019 and told him he will receive invoices from different entities and that it was for the quotas he had received. “As Low-Key has already invested so much in Namibia, we felt we had no choice but to pay the invoices,” Fernandez stated. Shuudifonya, however, disputed this and said that the ACC investigator Willem Olivier “threatened” the witnesses to alter their versions to suit his narrative.
Lutibezi read from an email in which Fernandez confirmed that he had agreements with Ndjako and Wanakadu for services rendered. Olivier, however, replied that he does not believe that to be the truth and asked the witnesses to reply with the correct versions. He further said that he also had further loan arrangements with Otuafika, which he paid with the money he received from Low-Key and that he also advanced Otuafika with a loan of N$2.3 million.
At the end of his cross-examination, the judge had a few questions for Shuudifonya regarding the invoices sent to Saga Seafoods, Low-Key Investments and Skeleton Coast Trawlers. Shuudifonya was again lost for words and tried his level best to explain how he received funds for services he did not provide. Part of the money he owed to James was also paid to JTH Trading which belongs to Tamson Hatuikulipi, he stated and said it was because of an instruction from James.
Wanakadu Investments also received N$9.9 million from Low-Key Investments for “services rendered” from which N$1.5 million was paid to JTH Trading, N$1.5 million to Erongo Clearing and Forwarding from which N$500 000 was transferred to Greyguard Investments.
Wanakadu Investments, which the State alleges belongs to Phillipus Mwapopi and Nghipunya on an equal basis further paid N$700 000 to JTH Trading and a further N$2.4 million to Erongo Clearing and Forwarding from which N$548 000 to JTH Trading.
According to the indictment, Shuudifonya benefitted with an amount of N$21.4 million through transactions. He is charged with two counts of racketeering, five counts of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, three counts of fraud, three counts of money laundering and one count of theft.
Shuudifonya and his co-accused Bernhard Esau, Sacky Shanghala, Tamson and James Hatuikulipi, Pius Mwatelulo, Ricardo Gustavo, Nghipunya, 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 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. -firstname.lastname@example.org