ACC guns for Fishrot foreign assets

The Anti-Corruption Commission, which has seized 21 Namibian properties owned by the six Fishrot accused, is broadening the scope of its search.

03 February 2020 | Crime

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has set the ball rolling in establishing whether the men infamously known as the 'Fishrot Six' own any assets abroad that are linked to the multimillion-dollar fisheries bribery scandal.

Talk has heightened that the men – who include former cabinet ministers Sacky Shanghala and Bernhardt Esau – own assets in neighbouring South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

Their co-accused are James Hatuikulipi, Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo and Pius Mwatelulo. The ACC says if any evidence is found that they own any assets in those countries linked to their case, requests will be made to the office of the prosecutor-general to attach these assets. The six are implicated in a corruption scandal involving payment of bribes amounting to N$150 million by Icelandic fishing company Samherji.

ACC director Paulus Noa said the search was on to establish whether they owned assets outside of Namibia.

“As soon as we know what type of assets they own, we will place it under our investigation records and pass that information onto the office of the prosecutor-general. All of the assets, as soon as we know, we will take legal action,” Noa said.

According to him, once found, such evidence would be turned over to the office of the prosecutor-general to have assets attached and or frozen.

“It will be up to the office of the prosecutor-general to start the process of attachment.”

Noa would not shed light on what assets the ACC has been able to freeze or attach since the scandal was exposed.

“It is not appropriate to list the assets that have been attached or that are frozen,” he said.

So far, 21 properties belonging to the Fishrot Six are reported to have been seized by the ACC. These include Esau's commercial farm, Erf 214 in Windhoek's Hochland Park suburb and Erf 530 located in Modesa, Swakopmund.

The ACC also attached Erf 229 of Finkenstein Farm no. 526 of portion 4, which belongs to Gustavo, in addition to Erf 983 in Hochland Park, Windhoek, a 50% share in portion 229 of the farm Finkenstein Estate and another portion of land with the transfer number T7779/2018.

The ACC seized 12 properties linked to Tamson Hatuikulipi. Five of the properties are in Ongwediva, and four in various Windhoek neighbourhoods. He also has three properties in Swakopmund, Ondangwa and Eenhana, all of which have been attached.

Tamson's cousin and co-accused James Hatuikulipi lost control of his Erf 214, located in Windhoek's Academia suburb. This property is registered as a close corporation, with registration number cc/2015/06254 and company name A L Investment, Windhoek Observer reported in December.

According to Noa, there was cooperation with anti-graft agencies in other countries affected by the case.

“As we are all aware, this case has not only affected Namibia, but also various other countries, yes other anti-graft agencies are cooperating with ACC to facilitate the provision of evidence on the case at hand.” While the search for the offshore assets of the Fishrot Six intensifies, an attempt was allegedly made to have the bank cards of James and Mwatelulo removed from the evidence the ACC is holding.

Police reservist Sakaria Kokule and Windhoek resident Jason Iyambo were arrested recently for allegedly trying to bribe an ACC investigator to remove the bank cards of the two. Kokule and Iyambo were separately arrested and are currently behind bars.

A close associate of Shangala, Nigel van Wyk, is also in custody on a charge of obstructing the course of justice. It is alleged that he attempted to remove evidence linked to the case from the Windhoek residence of Shangala.

The Fishrot Six's next court appearance is scheduled for February 20. They have approached the Supreme Court to have their arrests declared unlawful.


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