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Shuudifonya: I lent James N$2m for Swapo congress

2021-11-11  Roland Routh

Shuudifonya: I lent James N$2m for Swapo congress
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Fishrot accused Otneel Shuudifonya said he loaned co-accused James Hatuikulipi N$2 million in different instalments to help stage the 2017 Swapo congress. 

This evidence was led yesterday during the ongoing bail hearing in the Windhoek High Court before Judge Shafimana Ueitele. Shuudifonya, who also said he was a good candidate to be considered for bail, said the loan was repaid by Hatuikulipi and he did not know where the money came from.

He said this in relation to a question from his lawyer Milton Engelbrecht as to a chargwwwe that he received N$2 million from Celax Investment.
He further denied that he was part of a conspiracy to defraud Fishcor through dubious quotas and unlawful transactions. According to Shuudifonya, he holds 100% membership in Ndjako Investments in which the State alleges that Nghipunya holds a secret 50% membership. “None of my entities was involved in any transactions related to quotas” and the allegations by the State holds no water,” he said. 

“The aversion by the State that they have a strong case against me is without merit and baseless. I have no reason to abscond, no reason to interfere in investigations.” 

The accused said the court may also impose strict conditions including reporting twice a day on Mondays and Fridays and make an order for him not to interfere with witnesses and the investigation. He further stated that it would not be in the interest of the public or of justice to be kept in custody. Shuudifonya told the court he has three children, aged four, one and eight months, and he is the sole breadwinner.

He said he would not flee the country if granted bail of N$50 000 which he would source through his friends. “I am ready to surrender myself, report myself twice a day. I am ready to notify the authorities when I intend to travel,” he said. 

He also promised not to interfere with the course of justice in any way, shape or form. “I will not interfere with State witnesses. I have the list of witnesses and I will not interfere with them... they are well known,” he said. Shuudifonya was arrested on 21 December 2020 in connection with the Fishrot scandal, which saw State resources looted at an industrial scale. With regards to his businesses, he said that he started his first business selling fish products during 2015 with a certain Samuel Israel on a 50/50 partnership basis. 

Nghipunya provided the start-up capital for the business, Fine Seafoods cc. Shuudifonya told the court Nghipunya provided him and his partner in the venture with containers, computers and other electronic devices as well as their first consignment of fish stock to the tune of N$1.3 million. Israel is also the other trustee in Nghipunya’s Gwanyemba Investment Trust. 

With regards to Ndjako Investments, he said that he received start-up capital from Otuafika Logistics through Hatuikulipi. He asked Nghipunya to reserve the name for him during February 2017 which was done and he owns 100% of the membership. 

“I came to know during 2019 that Gwanyemba Investment Trust is venturing into diamond mining activities in Angola and I expressed an interest in it. Me and Nghipunya discussed it and it was agreed that I would buy into the venture for N$3 million for a 30% share.  During November 2019, Nghipunya informed me that I should issue invoices to Skeleton Coast Trawlers for work Gwanyemba did for them and was owed to them.” He further said that the money, while owed to Gwanyemba Investment Trust, should be paid to Fine Seafoods. However, he said, Fine Seafoods never rendered any services to Skeleton Coast Trawlers. So far, he said, Ndjako Investments invested N$7.4 million in the Angolan venture. He further said Nghipunya, through Gwanyemba Investment Trust, then showed interest in a butchery business Fine Seafoods was involved in and the money paid by Skeleton Coast Trawlers was for the butchery business. 

With regards to the N$10.3 million Fine Seafoods received from Saga Seafoods, he said that is for an agreement reached between him and Icelandic national, Egill Helgi Árnason for the delivery of fish feed for an aquaculture project. In relations to the money received from Low-Key Investments, he said the funds he received from them were for consultancy and vessel management services. 

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.  

2021-11-11  Roland Routh

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