Cops nab Fishcor's Nghipunya

18 February 2020 | Crime

Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya is being questioned in connection with the Fishrot bribery saga.

Police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi confirmed Nghipunya's arrest yesterday.

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director-general Paulus Noa said Nghipunya had been brought in for questioning by the police, but would not confirm whether he would be charged.

“Yes he was called in for questioning,” Noa said.

Nghipunya was placed on suspension in December after it came to light that he had allegedly used his office as leader of the state-owned fishing company to allocate fishing rights in exchange for money. He is the 10th person arrested in connection with the Fishrot bribery scandal.

The main accused in the matter are James Hatuikulipi, who was forced to step down from his position as Fishcor board chairperson, his cousin Tamson, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, suspended Investec employee Ricardo Gustavo and Hanganeni employee Pius Mwatelulo. Others arrested are hangers-on of the main accused. They face separate charges.

During the filming of an Al Jazeera documentary titled 'Anatomy of a Bribe', Nghipunya was secretly recorded promising journalists posing as investors access to fishing quotas, using Fishcor as a vehicle.

Esau had stripped several private companies of fishing quotas and handed them to Fishcor, which is now at the centre of allegations that it passed on huge allocations of its quotas to Icelandic company Samherji, which paid the company's officials and local politicians handsome kickbacks in return.

Some of the companies that lost their quota allocations ended up retrenching employees as a result.

Al Jazeera journalists spent three months undercover posing as foreign investors looking to exploit the lucrative Namibian fishing industry. Nghipunya was one of the officials the undercover journalists held private meetings with.

Hands in the cookie jar

Nghipunya promised to give fishing quotas to a supposed investor identified as Johnny in the Al Jazeera documentary that aired in early December last year.

“For as long as I am Fishcor CEO, for the next five years, you will get quotas from me,” Nghipunya said in the footage.

When news of the Fishrot scandal broke in November, Nghipunya told Namibian Sun he had never received a bribe.

“I do not even know why they listed my name because I never received a bribe,” he said at the time.

Walvis Bay lawyer Sacky Kadhila Amoomo, who was described as a “dealmaker” in the documentary, was shown assuring the purported investor: “He [Nghipunya] will make sure you get the quota and it is in his interest, because by virtue of having a 20% [stake] he has interest in the operation.”

Nghipunya further encouraged the 'investor' that the money would be channelled through Amoomo to him using a company owned by the lawyer as a front, to hide the link between the investor and Nghipunya.

“What we are trying to do is to make sure that the whole deal is with Sacky. Then it becomes independent, that I am just there to support you with your quota,” Nghipunya is seen as saying.

Fishrot-linked arrests

In December, Nigel Van Wyk, a close associate of Shanghala was arrested for attempting to obstruct the course of justice when it was discovered that he tried to remove material pertaining to the Fishrot case from a residence owned by Shanghala.

Jason Iyambo and police reservist Sakaria Kokule were also arrested in January in connection with the Fishrot saga after they allegedly tried to bribe an ACC investigator to release bank cards of two the main accused. All the Fishrot accused are set to appear on 20 February in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court, with the so-called Fishrot Six's case separated from the other two cases involving the so-called hangers-on.


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