ACC 'on course' to meet Fishrot deadline
The anti-graft body says it is well on its way to meet deadlines set by the court, failure of which may see the 'Fishrot Seven' provisionally released from jail.
15 October 2020 | Crime
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday said it is well on course to meet the 14 December deadline set by the court to conclude its investigations into the Fishrot scandal.
In September, Magistrate Vanessa Stanley thinly suggested the court might have no further reason to keep the Fishrot accused in custody if investigators do not wrap up their probe within three months, ending on December 14. Magistrate Stanley granted the state a final postponement in the Fishcor and Nangomar Pesca court cases. In the Fishcor matter, the accused are suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, former Investec CEO James Hatuikulipi, businessman Tamson Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo.
They stand accused of having benefited from a bribery syndicate involving millions of dollars in exchange for lucrative fishing quotas to Icelandic company Samherji, using Namibia's national state-owned fishing company Fishcor.
Last month, the Bank of Namibia said it had traced movement of up to N$10 billion linked to the Fishrot scandal. In the Nangomar case, former Investec business manager Ricardo Gustavo is charged along with Shanghala, Esau, the Hatuikulipi cousins and Mwatelulo. In the Fishcor case, N$75.6 million is said to have been paid to companies belonging to Esau, while N$103 million is said to have been paid over in the Nangomar case. Shanghala, Esau, the Hatuikulipi cousins, Mwatelulo and Gustavo have been in jail since their arrest in November 2019.
Nghipunya was arrested in February this year.
ACC director-general Paulus Noa yesterday said the Fishrot investigation is a mammoth one but he is confident that they will meet the deadline.
“We are progressing to make sure that before the deadline we have submitted necessary information to prosecutor-general Martha Imalwa to take a decision,” he said.
“Remember, we are talking about a case that goes beyond our borders. We are talking about a case that involves forensic analysis and some assets and so many things. But we have to do what we can do to ensure we comply with the court order,” he said.
Noa added that while there are countries that are cooperating with Namibia, the language barrier may pose a challenge.
He also stressed that most requests are going back and forth and may delay the process.
“The other issue that I must mention is that when you submit requests you need to comply with the legal procedures of that particular country. Sometimes you send your request they tell you, we expect you to comply with X, Y and Z or you send and they say again we need to provide additional information,” he said.
Early this year, Richard Metcalfe, the lawyer of Fishrot accused Bernhardt Esau and his son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi, said the ACC had no funds to carry out a proper investigation – thus disadvantaging his clients.
At the time the ACC said it would commit the bulk of the N$61 million allocated to it from this year's national budget to Fishrot investigations.
Only N$2 million is available for forensic investigations by the ACC, Namibian Sun established.
The seven men face a string of charges including money-laundering, tax evasion and fraud.
Investigations are also ongoing in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Spain, Iceland, Cyprus, Dubai, Sweden and Norway.
More arrests are expected in Angola and Iceland, State Advocate Ed Marondedze said recently during the bail proceedings of others accused in the saga.