Samherji’s Fishrot boss back on job

Investigation ‘well under way’

01 April 2020 | Fishing

CATHERINE SASMAN

WINDHOEK

The Icelandic company implicated in the Namibian Fishrot scandal, Samherji, last week announced that its disgraced former CEO, Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, would return to the company as co-CEO.

Baldvinsson was asked to step aside late last year because of his alleged complicity in the Fishrot saga and pending an internal investigation into Samherji subsidiaries’ alleged wrongdoing in Namibia.

Crisis management

Samherji said Baldvinsson’s return to the company is to lead the group’s crisis response amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He is to remain in this position until the board decides otherwise.

Samherji last week said the investigation, which was commissioned by its board of directors and supported by the international law firm Wikborg Rein in Norway, is “well under way”.

“The investigation will continue unaffected and without interruption from changes in the Group’s management. Wikborg Rein’s reporting lines will remain to the board of directors,” Samherji said in its statement.

Delays

It said it expected some delays in the investigation due to extraordinary circumstances forced upon the world by the pandemic.

The company’s acting CEO, Björgólfur Jóhannsson, in a circular to Samherji employees in December last year, said a “large part” of the allegations of bribery for fishing quotas in Namibia was “unfounded”.

Jóhannsson also claimed that whistleblower Jóhannes Stefánnsson’s trove of leaked documents, which exposed the Fishrot scandal, were “cherry-picked” and reason enough to doubt Stefánnsson’s allegations.

Samherji said Baldvinsson has strong leadership and detailed knowledge of the company’s operational aspects critical to handle any crisis that may arise due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It said Baldvinsson had previously guided Samherji through the Icelandic banking meltdown and global financial crisis “with outstanding results”.