Another Fishgate 'kingpin' falls

Acting Fishcor board chairperson Bennett Kangumu says they are not looking at immediately removing Mike Nghipunya as CEO, as they have to follow due process before making a decision about his future.

21 November 2019 | Fishing

Fishcor board chairperson James Hatuikulipi has resigned from the state-owned fishing enterprise amid the ongoing fallout over an alleged bribery scandal involving hundreds of millions of dollars.

Board member Dr Bennett Kangumu has been appointed as chairman of the board in the meantime.

However, Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya remains in his job, despite the possibility of him interfering in the unfolding probe into a scandal that has rocked both Iceland and Namibia's reputations on the world stage.

Fishcor is at the centre of the allegations involving Iceland's biggest seafood company, Samherji, paying between N$150 million and N$2.5 billion in bribes to Namibian politicians and officials to get their hands on what has been described as Namibia fishing quota “goldmine”.

According to the treasure trove of 30 000 documents released by WikiLeaks last week, Samherji allegedly paid bribes for over six years. The documents include emails, internal reports, spreadsheets, presentations and photos provided by Jóhannes Stefánsson, Samherji's former representative in Namibia.

The company has been operating in Namibia for almost a decade, with a quota for horse mackerel.

But after allegedly greasing the palms of now former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, Hatuikulipi, his cousin Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi, who is also Esau's son-in-law, and Nghipunya, they hit the jackpot.

Samherji was awarded quotas by Fishcor and is apparently still fishing in Namibian waters. In 2016 Samherji received a 5 000-tonne quota from Fishcor at a price of 50 million Icelandic Króna (about US$399 906), which was lower than what it had been sold for previously. This is a pattern that was more or less repeated in 2017 and in 2018.

Last week public enterprises minister Leon Jooste wrote a letter to acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana, who is the country's attorney-general, to have James Hatuikulipi and Nghipunya removed from their Fishcor positions.

Kawana yesterday confirmed that Hatuikulipi had resigned as board chairperson on Monday, but said his hands were tied as far as the suggested removal of CEO Nghipunya was concerned.

Esau and Shanghala resigned from cabinet last week, while Fitty and Shanghala's bank accounts were frozen by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) of the Bank of Namibia.

Hatuikulipi last week resigned as managing director of Investec, an asset-management company.

On Nghipunya, Kawana said: “The CEO situation is not within my ambit; you would have to speak to the board about that.

“In terms of corporate governance principles, [the] removal of a CEO is a board prerogative, not the minister's, and thus he's not involved in that process.”

Kawana said he was aware of the implications Nghipunya's continued involvement at Fishcor may have.

“Fishcor is an important company to our economy and employs over 1 000 people, mostly women and youth. Any negativity against the company could affect its image, especially in the eyes of those that it does business with it, and in the long run this may lead to job losses,” Kawana acknowledged.

Acting chairperson Kangumu said the board was not looking at immediately removing Nghipunya as CEO, as it had to follow disciplinary processes before making a decision regarding his future.

“There is nothing to report at this stage, because we are a country governed by the rule of law. We need to undertake due process,” Kangumu said.

Pressed on whether Nghipunya's continued presence at office would not compromise any investigative work being undertaken to untangle the Fishgate scandal, Kangumu reiterated that due process was needed.

“Whatever angle you look at it, you need to follow due process. As a board, we have a process to ensure such a thing does not happen,” he said.

Jooste and Kawana are set to meet to discuss Fishcor.

Jooste said he had requested a meeting and wanted it to take place as soon as possible.

“I am going to meet with the acting [fishing] minister [Kawana] to discuss the matter. The minister was on leave and had to attend the election court session this week. I have requested the meeting and expect it to take place soonest,” he said.

“I have full confidence in the discretion of the minister to deal with this matter as he deems fit, after evaluating the obvious implications,” Jooste added.


Similar News


Quota auction disaster

19 hours ago | Fishing

STAFF REPORTERWINDHOEKA series of schoolboy errors has led to a massive failure of the government’s recent fish quota auction, which netted the state a paltry...

Nghipunya's future at Fishcor under discussion

2 weeks ago - 16 September 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe future of suspended National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) CEO Mike Nghipunya is currently under discussion, board chairperson Mihe Gaomab II has informed...

Fishcor chair condemns Seaflower deals

3 weeks ago - 10 September 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe newly appointed board chairperson of the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia, Mihe Gaomab II, has condemned agreements entered into by the company's subsidiary,...

Floodgates open for quota 'middlemen'

4 weeks ago - 02 September 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe government has confirmed there is nothing holding back the winning bidders of its “governmental objectives” quotas from profiting by reselling the hake, horse...

Govt wrestles quota mandate from Fishcor

1 month - 25 August 2020 | Fishing

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKGovernment has to find a transparent and credible system to replace the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) as the beneficiary of its...

Govt threatened over fishing quota auction

1 month - 24 August 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe People's Litigation Centre (PLC) has threatened to drag the fisheries ministry to the High Court to review a decision by minister Albert Kawana...

Fisheries still not ready to reveal new quota holders

1 month - 20 August 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe process of allocating the country’s sought-after fishing quotas has still not been completed, despite previous pronouncements by fisheries minister Albert Kawana that 81...

Govt eyes over N$300m from fishing quota auction

1 month - 19 August 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe ministry of fisheries is expecting upwards of N$300 million from the auctioning of “governmental objectives” fishing quotas that had been previously been dished...

Fishing quota auction storm grows

1 month - 14 August 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKGovernment's decision to auction off its fishing quota, and then use the proceeds to finance its efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic is continuing...

Samherji begs for release of seized vessel

1 month - 14 August 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKIcelandic firm Samherji, which is at the centre of the Fishrot bribery scandal, has asked Namibian authorities to release its fishing vessel Heinaste, which...

Latest News

Quota auction disaster

19 hours ago | Fishing

STAFF REPORTERWINDHOEKA series of schoolboy errors has led to a massive failure of the government’s recent fish quota auction, which netted the state a paltry...

Uutoni has final say on...

19 hours ago | Government

KENYA KAMBOWERUNDUUrban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni will have the last say as to whether 83.1738 hectares of land at Divundu in the Kavango...

Govt spends N$2.3bn to buy...

19 hours ago | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe government has spent N$2.3 billion on the acquisition of 558 farms measuring 3.4 million hectares to resettle landless Namibians to date.The government started...

Nam tourism sector observes world...

19 hours ago | Business

By Ndalimpinga IitaTourism enterprises and operators in Namibia organized excursions to mark the World Tourism Day.At a popular heritage site in the Namibian capital Windhoek,...

Youth must stand up and...

19 hours ago | Opinion

Young Namibians have historically been the torchbearers of every revolution we have come to experience.In fact, that’s the story everywhere in Africa. Nelson Mandela, Yoweri...

Snared Etosha elephant calf rescued

19 hours ago | Environment

FRANCOISE STEYNBERGWINDHOEKAn elephant calf that was spotted near Namutoni in the Etosha National Park with a wire snare cutting deep into the flesh of its...

Nam upper middle-income classification misleading

19 hours ago | Economics

Namibia has a small population and is endowed with natural resources however, the country faces ongoing impediments to realising its developmental aspirations, said president Hage...

Six arrested for wildlife crimes

19 hours ago | Crime

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKSix suspects have been arrested in connection with wildlife crimes and two new cases were registered last week.Three of the suspects were arrested for...

Swapo processes under fire

19 hours ago | Politics

OTIS FINCKWALVIS BAYAccording to an aggrieved group, Swapo leaders assigned to the Erongo Region baffled members in the districts by pushing through disputed candidate nominations...

Load More