ACC says no to Fishrot bail

04 December 2019 | Crime

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has objected to bail being granted to the six accused in the Fishrot scandal because they may interfere with the investigations or evidence if they are released.

The ACC said more suspects may be added to the case, as continuing investigations have uncovered suspicious multiple bank transactions that need to be forensically analysed.

The six accused, including former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau and former justice minister Sackeus Shanghala, abandoned their bail application on Monday amid public protest and will remain behind bars until bail is granted.

The six are accused of money laundering, tax evasion, fraud and conspiring to commit offence of using a public office to obtain gratification.

In a statement issued this week the ACC explained that several other people implicated in the scandal are yet to be questioned, and bank accounts must be forensically audited once the necessary summons are served on commercial banks.

“Investigating agencies are still in the process of obtaining further evidence and statements relating to assets suspected to be the proceeds of crime. More suspects may be added to the charges and investigations extend beyond the borders of Namibia, and reasonable time is needed to advance the investigations,” the statement read.

The ACC also pointed out that given the magnitude of the matter it would not be in the public's interest to release the accused on bail.

“It is not in the public interest to grant bail to the suspects considering the serious nature of allegations against them and the financial damages caused to the national economy resulting from the alleged bribery, tax evasion, money laundering and other corrupt practices.

“Marine resources are the natural resources of Namibia which could legally be exploited to benefit all citizens,” the ACC said.

The statement added that corruption causes untold hardship such as unemployment and the inability to deliver adequate healthcare.

“Lack of financial resources because of corruption cause poor service delivery as well as poor sanitation. It results in shortages of classrooms, school materials and teachers,” said the statement.

Act the part

According to political analyst Henning Melber, the ACC is under extreme pressure to create the impression that it is rigorous and proactive, which has not been the case.

Melber also thinks the ACC knew that something was simmering but decided to ignore it.

“Now they are afraid that once the lid is taken off the already widely held perception is confirmed, that, using a most adequate picture, they only go for the small fry but not the big fish,” said Melber.

Meanwhile, the Swapo Politburo this week decided to remove Shanghala and Esau from the party list for the National Assembly.

They will be replaced by Sebastian Karupu and Gotthard Kasuto.

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