The State is convinced that it has a strong case that will ultimately result in the conviction of Fishcor’s suspended CEO Mike Nghipunya.
Deputy prosecutor general Ed Marondedze submitted in court yesterday during Nghipunya’s bail hearing that there is strong evidence that shows the trail of how money flowed from Fishcor to Nghipunya’s pockets between August 2014 and December 2019.
Marondedze explained that money was transferred from Fishcor’s account to Celax Investment Number One, who then made payments to a law firm of De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Inc trust account, which consequently ended up into Gwanyemba Investment Trust.
Nghipunya is allegedly the beneficiary and trustee of Gwanyemba Investment Trust. An amount of N$6 million was allegedly paid to the trust.
It is the State’s submissions that Nghipunya started withdrawing large sums of money from trust in question after the deposits were made for which he used to acquire multiple immovable properties and luxury cars. Furthermore, he allegedly spent large sums of money at a Windhoek upscale lounge.
“There is overwhelming evidence against the applicant (Nghipunya), so much that the State can confidently say that he will be convicted come trial date. The evidence at hand states that we don’t have a prima facie case but a strong case against him,” said Marondedze.
Nghipunya was arrested in February for allegedly working together with former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, ex-minister of justice Sacky Shanghala, former Investec Namibia managing director James Hatuikulipi, Esau’s son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi and Pius ‘Taxa’ Mwatelulo in order to channel payments totalling N$75.6 million from Fishcor to themselves or entities of their choice.
Nghipunya and his co-accused are now facing three counts, including fraud, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act and corruptly using office for gratification as well as money laundering for the alleged transfers from Fishcor.
“He and his co-accused made it a point to legalise their crimes. Thus, committing economic violence. They actually sat and planned how they were going to take advantage of these governmental objectives for their benefit,” submitted Marondedze. He further argued that Nghipunya does not meet the requirements to be released on bail pending his trial.
Nghipunya has thus far denied the allegations, citing that he was merely carrying out his duties as CEO of Fishcor. Nghipunya’s lawyer Thabang Phatela submitted that the State’s case is flawed and they are prepared to prove that at trial.
Phatela submitted that Nghipunya acted within the confines of the law as CEO of Fishcor when he made the payments and all payments made for governmental objectives were above board.
“When my client paid this N$75.6 million, it was done legitimately under his functions as CEO of Fishcor. He had no idea and there is also no evidence that indicate that he was aware that the money was not meant for governmental objectives,” said Phatela.
On the trail of money that was raised by the State, Phatela argued that once money is transferred into the pool of a trust account, it is hard to detect who will be the end beneficiary. This he said will form part of their defence at trial and he will expand on it then.
Phatela further argued that Nghipunya has placed his confidence in the justice system and has fully co-operated with the state in their investigations.
“We have demonstrated that these issues were cleared up by the auditors. There was no secrecy. There was only accountability and transparency. If he was guilty of these allegations, he would not subject himself to an audit,” argued Phatela.
Phatela further submitted that his client is not a flight risk as he had the opportunity to flee in November 2019 when he became aware of the allegations against him.
He proposed that he be granted bail in the amount of N$150 000 with conditions attached as the court my decide. Nghipunya has been in custody for four months since his arrest in February.
Deputy Chief magistrate Ingrid Unengu is set to deliver a ruling on 30 June.